Coronavirus Updates

News and Resources for Our Community

July 13, 2020

Dear Southeastern University Community,

With the rise of the coronavirus pandemic across the nation, I have frequently been asked if we still plan to return to in-person classes in the fall. I wanted to assure you that we will be opening our campus for the 2020–21 academic year and share our plans for Back to SEU with you.

In fact, we greatly anticipate the return of students in late August. The first day of classes for our traditional undergraduate students is September 2, and the semester will conclude on December 10.

While we recognize that this pandemic is not going away anytime soon, we believe that a communal learning experience is paramount for the growth and development of our students.  

It is with this mindset that our COVID-19 Recovery Task Force (CRT) has developed a reopening and reactivation plan for the upcoming academic year in order to ensure an environment where our community members feel safe. This playbook highlights key components of our community expectations and procedures, ranging from academics to health and safety protocols. 

Some of these new additions to campus life include:

  • Training for community members on how they can play their part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Monitoring your health and symptoms for COVID-19.
  • Wearing a mask in communal areas, including classrooms. 
  • Classes being offered in hybrid models to accommodate social distancing. 
  • Reduced seating in dining halls and increased to-go options. 
  • Permanent outdoor tents and activities for student engagement. 

I encourage you to take a moment to read through our playbook so you can familiarize yourself with these new protocols and procedures. I believe that you play an integral part in helping us provide a safe and healthy environment for our SEU community. 

In addition to the playbook, we will continue to share new updates through videos, social media and our Back to SEU website. Be sure to monitor your email accounts, our social media pages and website for new information. 

We have also created a new support resource for you. We realize that you might have specific questions about our reopening plan or just general questions about the coronavirus. If you have any questions, you can email covid@seu.edu and someone will get back to you in a timely manner. 

I look forward to seeing how God will continue to use our community throughout this new season and academic year.


Frequently Asked Questions

Updated July 24, 2020

Visit our Back to SEU web page for additional information and more helpful links.

What are the university’s COVID-19 protocols for students?
The university’s protocols for COVID-19 for students can be viewed in the Student COVID-19 Guide.

Are students required to wear masks on campus?
Students will be required to wear face masks while in classes to protect one another and our community. While face masks don’t protect you from getting sick, they do protect you from spreading respiratory illness to others. While in spaces where social distancing is not available, face masks will be required.

Will communal areas and lobbies have occupancy limitations?
Common gathering areas on campus will have limited occupancy based on CDC recommendations. Additional social spaces will be created outdoors with permanent tents and activities, such as corn hole, spike ball, etc.

If I have questions about the university’s response to COVID-19, who do I contact?
For any questions regarding COVID-19, please contact covid@seu.edu.

What will classes be like in the fall?
We believe that face-to-face instruction is paramount for the student experience. When the 2020-21 academic year commences in the fall, faculty will be providing face-to-face instruction along with virtual options as well. All traditional courses will be offered in a hybrid format.Hybrid refers to content both in MyFire and in physical classrooms.

With the CDC recommended 6 feet of space per student for social distancing, we will limit physical presence in each classroom to 50 percent of that standard room capacity. Faculty will create a seating chart with the purpose of them seeing and documenting 50 percent occupancy and for tracking purposes. In the event that any student is diagnosed with COVID-19, the seating chart will assist with knowing who else was in the room for the purpose of notification

Will study abroad trips take place in the fall?
At this point, all study abroad programs for the fall semester have been cancelled, and most domestic programs have been canceled for the entire year. All students participating in study abroad trips should have received an email about the cancellation of their program. If you were scheduled to participate in one of these programs, please contact your academic advisor.

What if students are feeling sick, but they do not want to miss class?
Students are encouraged to not go to class if they are not feeling well, or are showing any symptoms of illness. Classes will be available to view from the comfort of your dorm room in the event of any illness.

To supplement face to face delivery, faculty will be loading course content into the MyFIRE online learning platform.Course content might include pre-recorded video lectures, recorded class meetings, articles, assignments, or even Zoom sessions for live class meetings. Every class has a course shell in MyFire which is where students access content, submit tasks, take assessments, and see grade updates.

How will the university identify individuals who might have been exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom?
In the classroom, SEU will incorporate assigned seating should there be a need to help identify students who may have been exposed to an illness in a classroom environment.

I am concerned about returning to campus and taking face-to-face classes. Who should I contact?
Traditional undergraduate students who are concerned about returning to campus in the fall due to having a compromised immune system or other concerns related to COVID-19 may connect with the Office of Academic Advising advising@seu.edu regarding options for continuing their education.

Will adjustments be made to tuition and fees if courses are taught in a hybrid format or remotely?
There are no plans to adjust or remove fees for the 2020-21 academic year.

Southeastern University is committed to providing excellent teaching and learning experiences, through face-to-face, hybrid and remote instruction. As the university has invested in instructional design of courses, their delivery and associated materials, the university will not offer reimbursement or a discount tuition if classes are offered in a hybrid or remote format.

Whether through hybrid, remote or face-to-face instruction, our faculty will provide the same premier education. Charges for tuition and student services continue to help cover ongoing operations such as the delivery of instruction and the cost of student services such as registration, financial aid, and academic advising.

The main standard of quality for our courses remains the same whether they are taught in person or remotely: our courses must involve regular and substantive instructor interaction with students. Despite the delivery format, faculty and instructors are still able to:

  • Provide regular instruction and interact regularly with their students. 
  • Provide full and substantive assessments and regular feedback on students’ coursework.
  • Be proactive and available in providing information or responding to students’ questions about the content of the course. 

What precautions is SEU taking against COVID-19 within housing?
Our residence life, health and wellness, and facilities teams have been working closely together to prevent, monitor and trace infection outbreaks among resident students. To create a healthy environment for our students, all residence halls will only be open to residents of those facilities. We are ensuring all residence halls will have dedicated housekeeping staff to take other health and safety measures in cleaning. University members are required to wear masks in common areas where they are not able to maintain 6 feet social distancing from one another.

What precautions is SEU taking against exposure to illnesses within its dining services?
Chartwells, our food service provider, has been working with our teams in all dining areas (including Tuscana, Mi Casa and the Food Court) to design a custom plan for our campus. All eateries will be open this fall with many to-go options and all dining areas will be continuously wiped and sanitized throughout the day. Seating will also adjust according to the guidelines suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our food service teams are proactively working to offer creative menus to accommodate a variety of scenarios.

What is SEU doing to ensure the sanitization and safety of the campus?
We are taking extra precautions in preparation for students returning in the fall. On a regular basis we will be using state-of-the-art sterilizing fogging machines along with industrial antiviral solutions throughout the campus.

Hand sanitizer stations have been installed outside every classroom and in high traffic areas. In addition, portable handwashing stations are now situated around campus to encourage frequent hand washing.

We are also taking intentional precautions to ensure that your dorm room, classrooms, and community areas are clean and thoroughly sanitized.

UV Lighting, which is proven to kill mold spores and other microorganisms, has been installed throughout several of our campus HVAC systems. Air ionizing equipment has also been installed, which will improve the air quality of our campus facilities and classrooms.

Will residential students undergo daily health screenings?
SEU students can play their part of being a healthy citizen in reducing the spread of COVID-19 through taking their temperatures every day. Each on-campus student will be given a thermometer, sanitizer and an SEU branded mask when they move in. Students will administer self-symptom checks on a daily basis and be required to record their data on our custom database.

How will campus dining services change in the fall?
SEU is working with Chartwells, our dining services vendor, to ensure that the health and safety of students, faculty and staff are being considered. When dine-in service is possible, it will include distance spacing between tables and seats. Self-service buffet options will be eliminated. Facilities will include extensive signage. A greater range of pre-made and to-go options will be made available to limit in-person contact.

What if I need access to Microsoft Office for my classes, but I do not have it?
SEU Information Technology (IT) offers Microsoft Office 365 to students at no charge. If you would like access to this free service, call the IT Help Desk at 863.667.5028 or visit their website at helpdesk.seu.edu and submit a request for an account to be created.

Will adjustments be made to room and board fees if COVID-19 forces classes to be taught remotely?
SEU fully intends to keep residence halls open throughout the fall semester with precautions in place to support a healthy environment. If COVID-19 conditions force classes to shift to a remote-learning format, it is our expectation that students who need to stay on campus will be allowed to remain in the residence halls if necessary.

If a student chooses to leave their residence hall, the housing agreement will remain in place and they will be responsible for the duration of the agreement.

Will there be any changes to the campus bookstore?
The SEU Bookstore will have extended hours during move-in weekend and throughout the first two weeks of classes. There will also be a limited in-store capacity.

How should I go about ordering or purchasing textbooks from the campus bookstore?
Students are highly encouraged to place orders for textbooks online at www.seustore.com and choose in-store pick up at checkout. Online orders may take 24-48 hours before they are ready for pick up. An Order Update Email will be sent when the order is ready for pick up. If students prefer to shop in-store, they are encouraged to obtain their book list for the semester prior to entering the store by going to www.txbk.info/seu.

How can I pick up my textbooks for the semester?
Online order pick up will NOT occur inside the store during the first few weeks of classes. From August 28 through September 11, pick up will be located outside the mailroom doors between the Pansler and Addison buildings. Students should follow signage to the pick-up area and practice social distancing when in line. Students must have their student ID cards with them at pick up.

Students picking up a physical Follett Access book should go to the outside online order pick-up location. A student ID will be required. Students are unable to pick up items for other students. For help accessing digital Follett Access materials, please email seubookstore@seu.edu.

When is the last day for textbook refunds?
September 9, 2020, will be the last day for textbook refunds. A receipt must be presented at the time of return, and the book must be in the same condition as when it was purchased or rented.

Will there be any new policies or offerings from the library?
While in the Steelman Library, students are encouraged to maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet apart) and wear masks when social distancing is not possible. The library offers several online resources including library.seu.edu, which offers access to databases and books. The library faculty also provide reference help through their “Ask a Librarian” website. The library will also offer front-door pick up of materials. For questions, students should contact library@seu.edu.

How can I access resources from the Library remotely?
The library has several helpful options for you to be able to access their resources. You can access the library online at library.seu.edu. The library faculty also will be providing reference help through their “Ask a Librarian” website. To access this resource, go to the library website, and click on the “Ask a Librarian” link on the top of the website. 

If you have any questions, you can reach out to the library at library@seu.edu

What are the university’s COVID-19 protocols for employees?
The university’s protocols for COVID-19 for employees can be found in the SEU Employee COVID-19 guide.

What should I do if I am considered a part of a vulnerable population?
High-risk employees are defined as persons greater than or equal to 65 years old; those with chronic serious illnesses such as hypertension, coronary artery disease and diabetes; pregnancy; and/or immunodeficiency from medications or medical conditions.If you are part of a vulnerable population and are not able to complete your work remotely, please contact the Human Resources office.

How will the university implement social distancing measures?
Social distancing recommendations must be followed by all employees. This might mean certain offices that are communal and do not allow for appropriate social distancing (6 feet between workspaces) will need to develop alternative work schedules to ensure employee safety. Your supervisor will explain the specific steps that will be implemented for your office.

Are employees required to wear face masks?
SEU adheres to the mask mandate passed by Lakeland’s City Commission on July 3. According to the mandate, every person working, living, visiting or doing business in the City of Lakeland shall wear a face-covering consistent with CDC guidelines in any indoor location, other than their home or residence, when not maintaining social distancing from other persons, excluding family members or companions. We ask that all employees comply with these guidelines.

Will the university screen employees for symptoms?
All staff will be screened each morning when they enter the campus. This will involve temperature and symptom checks.

What should I do if I have a family member who has tested positive for COVID-19?
Individuals who have been in close contact (less than 6 feet away without a mask for more than 15 minutes) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will need to quarantine for at least 14 days and notify their supervisors. It is important that these individuals contact their health practitioners to inform them that they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. These guidelines should be followed when employees have family members who test positive for COVID-19 and reside in the same household as them.

What happens if I am sick, but I have already exhausted my sick time and all other forms of paid time off?
Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to a job-protected leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Placement on an unpaid personal leave for a specified period of time may also be an available option. Contact 863-667-5248 if you have any questions regarding benefits continuation options.

What should I do if I think I may have COVID-19?
Employees that are showing symptoms of COVID-19 are expected to stay home and notify their supervisors. These employees should use remote work, their leave accruals (sick/vacation days) or unpaid leave.

If I am diagnosed with COVID-19, who should I notify and what are my leave benefits?
In such an event, you should notify the COVID case manager at covid@seu.edu. You should also let your supervisor know that you will be absent due to illness, but you are not required to disclose your medical diagnosis to them. Sick time can be used for the absence. 

Where can I view the campus reopening plans?
Visit our Back to SEU web page, where you will find our full reopening plans, student guide, and more helpful links.

How can I get answers to the questions I have as a parent of an SEU student?
If you have questions that are not answered in the other FAQs, or on our Back to SEU web page, please email covid@seu.edu and the university will respond to your question.

What is the coronavirus?
The 2019 novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, is a member of a large family of viruses, which can cause a variety of illnesses in animals and humans. Like all members of the coronavirus family, it has a single strand of RNA to carry its genetic code. Among those with the illness, the severity has varied from simple “cold symptoms” all the way up to death. The fraction of those with a severe infection is a small portion of the total number infected with coronavirus, based on initial data.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s routinely updated situation summary is the best source for up-to-date information. The Florida Health Department has also posted a coronavirus information page.

For information on how the coronavirus is spread and treated, make sure to refer to the CDC website.

How can a person protect themselves from the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
There are several measures which reduce the likelihood of getting or spreading the virus:

  • Regularly wash your hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • Wear a mask or face covering when social distancing (at least 6 feet apart) cannot be maintained
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze
  • Do not share food or drinks
  • Avoid close contact with people who have fever, coughing, sneezing or difficulty breathing

What are the symptoms of the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19)?
According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How is Southeastern protecting the SEU community?
To ensure the safety and health of the SEU community, the university has appointed the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force (CRT). The team is responsible for ensuring that a plan is in place in response to the pandemic. You can view the university’s playbook for response and recovery here.

I am a student; what should I do if I think I may have COVID-19?
Students who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 are expected to stay in their residences (at home or in their dorm rooms) and immediately notify the SEU COVID case manager at covid@seu.edu. Students can expect a reply within two hours with information about next steps for testing and/or isolation, if appropriate. After business hours and on weekends, students should call 863-600-4066 for guidance.

Is the campus currently open to visitors?
At this time, Security is continuing to check SEU IDs at the main gate to campus. The names of any visitors to campus should be sent in advance to David Bright and Security along with the date and time of the visit. Also, visitors should stop by the Welcome Center for a symptom check before proceeding to meetings on campus. 

Where can I find the SEU virtual visit?
Please visit SEU.edu/virtualvisit for a virtual campus experience.

Is the campus currently conducting in-person tours and visits?
At this time, both virtual and in-person campus visits are being conducted.SEU will be taking appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of our campus visitors as well as that of our community. Campus visitors will need to register and complete a precautionary health survey prior to their scheduled visit date. Upon arrival, all guests will need to check in at the main gate and present identification. Symptom and temperature attendants will be stationed at various welcoming points across campus and SEU employees as well as guests will be assessed upon arrival. Personal campus visits will include a personalized tour and information session and will follow all CDC-recommended social distancing protocols.

Register for an in-person visit here. 

Are visitors required to wear masks on campus?
SEU adheres to the mask mandate passed by Lakeland’s City Commission on July 3. According to the mandate, every person working, living, visiting or doing business in the City of Lakeland shall wear a face-covering consistent with CDC guidelines in any indoor location, other than their home or residence, when not maintaining social distancing from other persons, excluding family members or companions. We ask that all visitors comply with these guidelines.

When will the in-person ceremony for the Spring 2020 graduates be held?
An in-person ceremony for our Spring 2020 graduates is scheduled for Friday, December 11, in Lakeland, Florida. The specific location will be announced later this summer.

What about other graduation recognition events?
Any information about postponement of or alternatives to specialized graduate recognition events (e.g. departmental events, graduate receptions, hooding ceremonies, etc.) will be provided by the event sponsor. 

Southeastern University has made the following decisions in response to coronavirus/COVID-19.

  • July 13, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • June 1, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • May 15, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • May 1, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • April 28, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • April 27, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • April 17, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • April 3, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • April 1, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • March 27, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • March 20, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • March 16, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • March 13, 2020: Watch a video message from SEU President, Dr. Kent Ingle.
  • March 13, 2020: View our blog for prior updates.
  • March 11, 2020: Watch a video message from SEU President, Dr. Kent Ingle.