Coronavirus Graphis

Updates on Coronavirus

Coronavirus Updates

The University of South Alabama continues to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority as university leaders work closely with local, state and federal agencies to share the most updated information. The following information is intended to help provide important health guidance from our USA Health experts.

For complete information on USA’s plans to reopen campus, please visit the reopening website.

For reliable, up-to-date information, visit:

Help for Students

With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in our region, the health, well-being and continued education of our students is a top priority. USA students who have questions, or are in need of assistance, are encouraged to visit the USA OneStop website or email for help with academics, counseling and any other issues. In addition, students with emergency financial needs can submit a request for assistance through our South CARES program.

USA has established the South CARES Emergency Fund, which directs critical resources to students who find themselves with urgent expenses they are unprepared to meet. If you are able to make a gift to assist our students, please do at Thank you for supporting our students!

▼   Updates from October 2020

October 16, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

USA Health broke ground this week on a freestanding emergency department, adjacent to South’s main campus, that will offer convenience to people who work and live in west Mobile. It also will enhance our ability to train the next generation of healthcare providers.

The facility near the corner of Old Shell and Hillcrest roads will be especially convenient to many members of our University community. USA Health anticipates up to 15,000 patient visits per year at the location, which will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Meanwhile, USA Health also is planning for the development of the USA Health Mapp Family Campus just outside Fairhope. The site will be at Alabama 181 and Alabama 104, on eight acres generously donated by Baldwin County residents Louis and Melinda Mapp.

Through the Mapp’s unwavering support of USA Health and their belief in the vital role that academic medicine plays in fostering healthy communities, we have an opportunity to enhance access to primary and specialty care on the Eastern Shore. The establishment of a state-of-the-art multispecialty Ambulatory Surgical Center would allow USA Health to provide outpatient surgery with the highest level of quality in a county that has experienced tremendous population growth. As part of the process, USA Health must show support to receive approval from the state of Alabama.

Both of these projects are just two more examples of the incredible advances USA Health has made in recent years, improving patient access to healthcare throughout Mobile and Baldwin counties.

For students, faculty and staff on the main campus, last week you should have received an email about COVID-19 GuideSafe sentinel testing. We intend to invite at least three percent of our on-campus population for testing each week. The randomized testing, an extension of our existing testing and screening protocols, will help monitor levels of COVID-19 on campus and identify potential outbreaks before they occur.

For more information on this process, please visit the student, faculty and staff sections of our reopening website.

Thank you for your commitment to a healthy and safe South community. Because of your efforts, we have been able to continue to keep our campus open and stay #SouthStrong.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.,

October 13, 2020

Dear USA Faculty and Staff,

In my email to you on September 25, I talked about the importance, in light of the novel coronavirus epidemic, of all employees receiving a flu vaccine this year. Getting this vaccine will not only help slow the instances of the seasonal flu but will also serve as a powerful tool to help ensure that we are able to effectively combat the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

As an incentive for faculty and staff to get the flu vaccine, University main campus employees who accrue vacation and who receive the flu vaccine by October 31, 2020, will be eligible to receive one day of personal leave, prorated based on FTE. Eligible employees must email flu shot documentation to Human Resources by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 2, 2020. Once verified, the leave will be added to your personal leave balance. This personal leave will be available the first day of your first pay period in November, and must be used by January 31, 2021.

University main campus employees who do not accrue vacation may receive a $25 Starbucks gift card as an incentive for getting the flu vaccine.

In order to receive the personal day or gift card, as applicable, please scan a copy or take a picture of your flu shot documentation and email it to Human Resources at Please include, with your flu shot documentation, your full name, J number and the date of vaccination.

Free flu vaccines will be offered on campus as follows:

Intramural Field House
8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Wednesday, October 14
Thursday, October 15
Wednesday, October 28
Thursday, October 29

Flu shots can be received on campus or at an off-campus location.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.
University of South Alabama

October 2, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

When the pandemic first hit in the spring, the University could not be sure how it might affect our enrollment. Nationally, colleges and universities were preparing for possible enrollment reductions of 10 to 20 percent; we prepared for a worst-case scenario.

I’m pleased to report our fall enrollment has remained stable when compared with last year, with a total student population of more than 14,200 students. This is a dip of about 1 percent, which is slightly better than the national average reported by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, based on preliminary data.

While undergraduate enrollment was down at South and across the nation, our first-time freshmen numbers are nearly even with 2019, and our graduate enrollment hit a record high this fall.

This good news is due in large part to years of hard work from our faculty and staff to promote and support student access and success at South. With tuition making up nearly 40 percent of our academic budget, enrollment is a priority for each of us as part of our job duties. Our Office of Enrollment Services staff, of course, were critical in our efforts, and are working diligently with the Office of Marketing and Communications to tell South’s story and attract new students for next year and beyond.

After a pause and a discussion of necessary health and safety protocols, campus tours have resumed in a modified format. Prospective students and their guests fill out a health screening form, and are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing. The tours are mostly walking tours or in open-air golf carts, and visitors do not stay in any one building for more than 15 minutes. Also, beginning next week and for each Monday in October and into November, we are hosting college previews days that will focus on each of our colleges and schools.

For high school students and parents who cannot come to campus or would rather engage remotely, we are continuing to schedule virtual meetings and soon will be launching a virtual campus tour.

Each of us knows how much South has to offer and the impact we can have on people and our communities. We also know from years of experience that we have a good chance at enrolling a student if she or he visits our beautiful campus and meets with our faculty.

Fall is a wonderful time to visit South safely. Please help us spread the word.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

▼   Updates from September 2020

September 25, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

As the world eagerly awaits a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, one already exists for another respiratory virus that will hospitalize and be fatal to tens of thousands of people this fall and winter – the seasonal flu.

With COVID-19 sickening millions and straining systems at their peak, it is more important than ever to get the flu vaccine to help keep you and others healthy.

The vaccine is a requirement this year for all University and USA Health employees. This is a long-established requirement for our health employees and will be offered at Children’s & Women’s Hospital beginning next week. More details and information about availability will be provided through the USA Health Insider digital newsletter.

For University faculty and staff employees, vaccines will be offered on the main campus in the coming weeks. More information will be forthcoming.

The vaccine also is required for students living in campus housing and is strongly encouraged for all other students. Students can make an appointment through the Student Health Center at (251) 460-7151. The Health Center will bill a student’s health insurance company for the vaccine; it is $20 for students paying out of pocket.

The flu vaccine can greatly reduce your chances of getting the flu, and it reduces the chance of getting seriously ill if you get vaccinated and still get sick. Here are a few reasons why getting the vaccine is even more critical this year:

  • Both COVID-19 and the flu have overlapping symptoms, so an increase in flu cases will mean an increase in tests for both and will put additional pressure on diagnostic capabilities.
  • Nationally and in certain regions, additional sick patients will increase demand for an already limited supply of intensive care beds and equipment.
  • We still do not know how the flu virus will interact with the coronavirus.

I've seen some incredibly generous displays of support for America’s healthcare workers this year. From meals delivered to University Hospital and Children’s & Women’s Hospital to New Yorkers applauding employees at shift change. I’ve also seen outreach from people sewing masks to making plasma donations. The simple step of getting the flu vaccine is a meaningful and impactful way to support our healthcare heroes and honor lives lost.

This week, South kicked off its 2020 campaign in support of the United Way of Southwest Alabama and its 46 partner agencies. For nearly 100 years, the United Way has created beneficial partnerships, used resources wisely and encouraged individuals and companies to join the fight to meet our community’s most serious needs.

During my time serving on the board of the United Way and as a campaign chair, I was able to see first-hand the extraordinary work done by partner agencies with the resources they have. I also witnessed how close some of our neighbors are to being in dire circumstances. With the pandemic and high unemployment, more families are having trouble just getting by, and those who were struggling before find themselves in even worse circumstances.

United Way agencies provide vital safety nets that focus on education, health, financial stability and life’s basic essentials, and we have an opportunity to help them in that worthy effort. Please consider joining me and Julee in contributing to this year’s campaign.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

▼   Updates from August 2020

August 30, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

Dr. David Johnson, as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, has played a key role on the University’s leadership team and has been a trusted advisor. He helped me adjust to my role as president, then continued to be a steady hand as we increased our retention and graduation rates, enrolled our most academically talented classes and enhanced our academic profile.

So it’s our loss that this week marks his last in administration, though he will continue to serve students as a faculty member in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work.

That is where Dr. Johnson began at South, more than 35 years ago, as an instructor. He moved up in the professorial ranks and in administration, first as an associate dean and then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Under Dr. Johnson’s transformative and inspirational leadership, South expanded its advising staff, which has contributed to better academic performance and progress among our students, and founded the Honors College. He facilitated the creation of many graduate and doctoral programs and started the Innovation in Learning Center, which continues to enhance faculty development in teaching and learning.

Dr. Johnson led South through a successful reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and a subsequent fifth year review. This year, he is serving as chair of SACSCOC’s board of trustees.

His successes stand out, but it’s how he has accomplished them that impresses me: through calm resolve, understated humor and unassuming wisdom.

Thank you, David, for all that you have done and continue to do.

As announced earlier this year, Dr. Andi Kent, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, has agreed to step in as acting provost until Dr. Johnson’s replacement is selected.

Although Dr. Johnson will be relinquishing his administrative role, I am thankful he will still be around and has agreed to continue to advise on South’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the University made public a dashboard that allows our community to track positive COVID-19 cases reported to our contact tracing team. So far, we are encouraged by a relatively low number of cases and a low positive entry testing rate among students of .52 percent. This is a result of both our planning and the cooperation of our students, faculty and staff. We must continue to be vigilant if we are to keep campus open and this virus at bay.

Please continue to stay safe and look out for your fellow Jaguars.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

August 25, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

In order to provide our community with information about how COVID-19 is impacting our campus, the University has launched a COVID-19 Dashboard web page, which contains information about the numbers of students, employees, and others who have reported positive COVID-19 tests to our contact tracing team. The dashboard includes reported cases from people who have been present on the University campus.

Please keep in mind that all USA employees and students are required to immediately report confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 to USA’s contact tracing team at Instructions on how to report are contained on USA’s Human Resources website and the student section of the University’s reopening website.

Thank you for your continued diligence in keeping our campus healthy and safe by wearing a mask, following social distancing guidelines, and washing your hands frequently.

Julie M. Estis, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
USA COVID-19 Response Coordinator

August 25, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

As part of USA’s ongoing efforts to provide the safest possible environment, the University is making available two new tools that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The first of these tools is the GuideSafe™ Jag Healthcheck, an easy health screening tool that must be completed daily by all USA general division employees (not USA Health employees) and all USA students, except those who are fully remote (i.e. not coming to campus for any classes or activities). This daily health screening will take only a few minutes to complete, and will help identify possible cases of COVID-19 in our community. Jag Healthcheck is required to maintain your ability to come to campus.

Our second new tool is the GuideSafe™ Exposure Notification App, an anonymous system which, if you test positive for COVID-19, will allow the Alabama Department of Public Health to notify those you do not know — or cannot remember coming into contact with — that they may have been exposed. Users of the app exchange anonymous codes among their phones using Bluetooth — no location data is ever stored or exchanged, and your personal information is never shared. This tool is strongly encouraged for all members of the University community.

Both of these tools can be accessed through the free Guidesafe App, which is available at the app store for Apple and Android devices or by visiting the GuideSafe website.

In addition, Jag Healthcheck can be accessed directly from any device by going to the website

For more information on these tools, please see the GuideSafe section of USA’s reopening websites for students, faculty and staff.

Thank you for doing your part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Julie M. Estis, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
USA COVID-19 Response Coordinator

August 21, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

For the past six months, our nation has been in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of us know the devastation it has brought our society, our way of doing things, our very beings. In the early stages, we as a nation, and so many people locally, reached out to our healthcare providers with demonstrations of support such as Light Up Mobile, many restaurants and organizations providing lunches, dinners and snacks, and donations of personal protective equipment. The list goes on.

While the number of hospitalized patients in the state is beginning to drop after a recent peak, our healthcare and support personnel continue to make tremendous sacrifices to care for patients and heal our community. They have not stopped.

Neither should we. Continue to show support for their selfless service. You can do that by wearing masks, avoiding crowds and social distancing. If you’re sick, stay home. When you see someone who works in our USA Health system, thank them.

Each person within USA Health has demonstrated commitment to the health system’s mission of helping people lead longer, better lives. People like Drs. Benjamin Estrada and Michael Chang, who have provided leadership and guidance on how we respond to this pandemic at USA Health and on the academic campus; Dr. Natalie Fox, who has played a lead role in our COVID-19 testing process at the Civic Center; Chase Labrato, who made sure there were no disruptions in the health system’s supply chain; Rosemary White, who oversaw the implementation of significant changes in cleaning protocols; and Dr. John Vandewaa, who serves on the governor’s COVID-19 statewide task force.

So to all our employees at USA Health – the physicians, nurses, therapists, machinists, environmental service workers, maintenance staff, and more: You have been a bedrock for all of us. You have provided care to those who have become ill, contributed time to your colleagues who were in need, put vacations on hold and been the healthcare heroes that we at times take for granted because you always are there for us.

You have done all this while facing the same difficulties outside of work that each of us has endured.

And for this, we thank you.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

August 14, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

It has been a welcome sight this week to see our students on campus again — and to see students wearing their masks. The move-in process began last Saturday and should be completed by this Sunday. We formally open the academic year on Sunday with our Convocation Watch Party, and continue with Week of Welcome and Beyond.

Check-in for campus housing includes a health screening, temperature checks and unloading of supplies. I have missed greeting students and parents on their arrival this year, but I’m thankful to the Housing staff and the resident assistants for welcoming our students and helping them get settled in.

While move-in has gone smoothly, I know some students have experienced issues either accessing the GuideSafe entry to campus system or making appointments for COVID testing at the Mitchell Center. I understand the frustration. We have worked with the implementation team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which is providing the service, and they have opened up additional testing appointments for our students. Students who cannot get an appointment before classes begin can still attend as long as they complete the health survey sent to their JagMail account and are going through the process to get tested. All students who will be on campus are required to complete the Screening, Training and Testing outlined in the Reopening Checklist for Students.

We also will be launching the new Jag Healthcheck system, which includes a wellness check-in that will need to be completed daily by students and University employees. That will be ready as early as next week. We will follow up with an email with the details, which will also be listed in South’s reopening campus plans.

The official kickoff for fall semester will take place Sunday at 4 p.m. with a Convocation Watch Party. Convocation typically is held at the Mitchell Center, where returning Jaguars welcome new students and faculty to campus. This year will be a virtual event, and I hope alumni, families interested in South, our USA Health employees and others who usually cannot attend will join us this year. The event will be streamed from the USA website homepage and South’s Facebook page. Convocation also begins the traditional Week of Welcome and Beyond. Events are scheduled through the end of the month to help new students get involved and introduce them to all that South has to offer.

As I’ve noted before, the nature of this pandemic requires us to be able to shift and evolve our plans as we learn more about this virus. A recent study conducted by Duke University suggests that some neck gaiters are ineffective at reducing the spread of coronavirus, and could actually increase spread by turning larger droplets into smaller ones as they pass through the thin, stretchy material. Because of that, gaiters will not be considered an acceptable form of masking on campus.

I hope you all will join me on Sunday for Convocation. Please continue to wear masks, social distance and avoid large groups. Your cooperation is critical to our success as we begin classes on Monday.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

August 11, 2020

Dear USA Students,

The University thanks you for your cooperation and response to the COVID-19 testing process that has been implemented through the GuideSafe™ entry to campus program, provided by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

We understand that many of you are experiencing issues either accessing the system or making appointments at the testing center at the Mitchell Center. We are working with the testing implementation team at UAB to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, and will provide you with additional updates as they become available.

If you are not able to be tested before in-person classes begin on Monday, August 17, you may still attend your classes as long as you have passed the health screening survey that will be sent to your JagMail account. Please complete this survey as soon as you receive it to ensure your ability to attend classes and activities on campus.

Our students are encountering two issues with the testing system:

  1. If you attempt to sign in and receive an error message that states “Your Employer has not signed you up for Healthy at Work,” please first ensure you are correctly entering your JagMail email address in the system. If you still receive the same error message, please reply to this email ( and include your full name, J number and JagMail email address. We will manually enter you into the system.
  2. If you are able to sign in but are not able to make an appointment at the Mitchell Center, this is due to capacity limits at the testing lab. We are working with UAB to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Please wait 24 hours, then sign in and attempt to make your appointment again. The University will make additional announcements as we receive more information from UAB on their testing capacity.

Although every student may not be able to be tested before classes begin, the University has put a number of health and safety measures in place this summer to help prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. These include our requirements for masking and social distancing, our health screening entry survey for all students and employees, and our contact tracing requirements. For more information on these processes and requirements, please visit the student section of USA’s reopening website.

Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve these issues, and thank you for doing your part to keep USA healthy for all.

August 7, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

It’s been a busy week. Testing began for students who will soon be arriving to campus, hundreds of students and parents logged on to a virtual town hall, and medical teams at University Hospital stood ready to provide care as two astronauts splashed down nearby in the Gulf of Mexico.

On Wednesday, I participated in a South Strong videoconference to provide information and answer questions for students and their parents. There were over 375 participants who sent in more than 100 questions, many of them about testing. As a reminder, all students who plan to come to campus are required to be tested for COVID-19. Students can be tested by their own medical provider, provided a nasal PCR test is done within 14 days of arriving on campus, or at no cost at one of more than a dozen sites across the state. The Mobile location is at the USA Mitchell Center.

Students are receiving appointment invitations from the GuideSafe entry to campus program based on their planned arrival date. For more information, visit the Information for Students section in South’s campus reopening plan. You can access the town hall video on the University’s Facebook page.

Expertise from USA Health played a critical role in drafting the campus reopening plan. It’s just another example of how the region’s only academic health system is impacting the lives of people in our area. That expertise is also why NASA designated University Hospital as a hospital for care if needed when the two astronauts returned to Earth on Sunday, landing safely in the water off Pensacola, Fla., after reentry by the Dragon Endeavour.

During this pandemic, USA Health is not just treating those with the virus. The health system and the University also are researching how we handle this virus in the future. There are 16 externally funded COVID-related research projects underway at the University and USA Health from federal, private and foundation sponsors, with more than a dozen other proposals submitted and pending funding.

With all that is going on, it reminds me of our adeptness to rise to our challenges, and to be thankful for members of our Jaguar family – to the healthcare and research teams combating this insidious virus, faculty and staff who are working diligently to welcome back students, and students and parents for placing your trust in us.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

▼   Updates from July 2020

July 31, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

The academic year is fast approaching, and University administrators, faculty and staff continue to get ready to welcome back our students. There are many details, so I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you about a few new initiatives, and reiterate some of those already announced.

All information can be found on the University website at

Much work and resources are being directed at keeping students and employees as safe as possible, including:

  • Free COVID-19 testing for students. An email went out earlier today instructing students about how they can get tested at the Mitchell Center, at other locations around the state or by mail for out-of-state students. There are special instructions for students under the age of 20 and those who live in certain states. The COVID-19 tests are part of the GuideSafe entry to campus program, provided by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and supported by CARES Act funding through the State of Alabama. If you are a student who will be on campus for classes or activities, this testing is required.
  • Health screenings for students and employees. Students and employees on the academic campus have been asked to complete a health screening before returning. This soon will be replaced by the GuideSafe Healthcheck program that will include similar questions. More information will be forthcoming. USA Health employees already are screened each workday and will continue using the system already in place.
  • An app-based exposure notification system. As part of GuideSafe, students and employees will be encouraged to download an application that, through Bluetooth technology, will alert you if someone you were near, who has the app, tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days. It will also work the other way: People near you with the app will be notified if you test positive. This will be done anonymously and through encryption – your name and other identifying information will not be shared. More information about this program will be relayed when the platform becomes available through GuideSafe.
  • Contact tracing. Students and employees are required to report positive COVID-19 test results to the contact tracing team, which will notify on-campus contacts who have had close contact with the person tested. Isolation or quarantine may be needed. For students, faculty will work with those in isolation and quarantine to help them with course completion. Employees will need to work from home, when possible, or use time off through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or sick leave. At USA Health, employees should continue to follow the procedures detailed on the USA Health website.
  • An emergency sick leave donation program. While the University offers generous sick leave benefits, I recognize that some employees, especially those who have had to take time off for a serious illness, may have limited hours from which to take. That is why the University has created a temporary program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through which employees can donate sick leave to a bank that employees with little to no sick time left can access, subject to certain limits and with the approval of Human Resources. This program will run through at least the end of the year, and any unused sick time in the program will be distributed back to employees who donate proportional to the amount of time donated. This program for academic employees is modeled after a similar one announced in May for USA Health employees.

These initiatives are in addition to the guidelines, including the masking and social distancing requirements, laid out in the initial release of our campus reopening plans earlier this summer.

Students with questions may contact USA OneStop at In addition, each student was invited by email to a town hall Zoom meeting scheduled for next week. Employees with questions may contact Human Resources at

As we face the challenge of a lifetime, we must take innovative and extraordinary steps to open our doors. I want to thank each of you for your flexibility and continued commitment to our missions of education, healthcare, research and service.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

July 31, 2020

Dear University of South Alabama Students:

As a part of USA’s plans to reopen campus and provide the safest possible environment for our campus community, all students planning to return to campus this fall will receive a free COVID-19 test as part of the GuideSafe™ entry to campus program, provided by the the University of Alabama at Birmingham and supported by CARES Act funding through the State of Alabama.

These tests will be administered free of charge to every student.

Any student who plans to physically be present on the USA campus for classes, meetings, jobs, extracurricular activities, events or any other reason will have to provide documentation of a COVID-19 test. Students participating in all fully online courses and who will not be physically present on campus for activities do not need to be tested.

You will receive an email within the next few days from with information about scheduling your COVID-19 test. Please look for and promptly complete the instructions in the email. Depending on your location, you may be directed to the testing center on the USA campus at the Mitchell Center or another site within Alabama, or you may be provided with a self-test kit to administer at home and send in.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 12 weeks, please do not re-test at this time. Instead, please send a copy of your positive test result and medical clearance from a healthcare provider to

Students who live in Alabama and who are 19 years of age or younger must have parental or guardian consent before scheduling a test. If you are 19 or younger and live within Alabama, please have your parent or guardian digitally sign the documents at this link. Through the AdobeSign system, the form will automatically be sent to GuideSafe Testing once it is submitted.

Due to FDA restrictions, students under the age of 18 who live outside Alabama, as well as all students who live in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Rhode Island, will not be able to participate in the at-home testing kit option provided by GuideSafe Testing. If you are an out-of-state student who is under the age of 18, or if you live in one of the states listed above, your options for testing are:

  • Use a testing option such as a drug store, your primary care physician, or a drive-through testing center in your area. Send your results to
  • Use a testing center in Alabama once you arrive in the state. GuideSafe Testing has 13 test sites set up across Alabama. To use this option, please email to register to receive a test at one of these locations once you are in Alabama.

For more information, please visit the student section of the USA reopening website or the GuideSafe testing website.

If you have additional questions after receiving your testing email and reviewing the website, please contact

Thank you for your cooperation, and we look forward to seeing you on campus soon.

Michael Mitchell
Vice President for Student Affairs

July 24, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff

We recently lost two distinguished and remarkable leaders in America’s civil rights movement – Rep. John Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian. I remembered John Lewis earlier this week on my social media account, recalling how fortunate we were to have him speak at our 2015 Fall Commencement.

C.T. Vivian, too, has a connection to South. In the 1960s, Vivian developed an educational program that helped hundreds of students attend college on scholarship. That program was the foundation for Upward Bound, a U.S. Department of Education program hosted at USA and many other universities that helps prepare high school students for higher education.

Lewis and Vivian sat at lunch counters so communities of color could receive equal treatment, and they stood against violent mobs to show us that the promise of freedom is a promise we make to all people. Their selfless determination helped change the course of our country; now it up to us to uphold their legacies.

As Lewis told our graduates, “I didn’t give up when it was my turn, and I kept the faith you must have now in yourselves because it is your turn. Remember, we are depending on you.”

This week, I also want to let you know that the University Committee on Reopening Campus continues to work through the many aspects of bringing our students and employees back to campus with the appropriate health and safety processes in place. The committee met three times over the past five days to address specific elements of academics and student life, and we will meet as often as needed to ensure that we are prepared for your return. We will communicate important developments and decisions to the USA community as additional facets of our plans are finalized.

As you all are aware, the growing spread of COVID-19 in our city and region continues to be of concern. Each time the reopening committee meets, we review a set of considerations developed by USA Health that keep us updated about the health status of our region and inform our reopening decisions. One key element of this list is our ability to provide essential services such as student health, dining services, campus police and environmental services. We will continue to review this list at each meeting to ensure we are fully prepared to deliver these services as we reopen.

I’m pleased to let you know that this week we added Dr. Julie Estis to our reopening team as our COVID-19 Response Coordinator. Many of you already know Dr. Estis through her roles as director of academic enhancement and associate professor of speech-language pathology in the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions. In her role as response coordinator, Dr. Estis will responsible for coordinating the institution’s COVID-19 response across divisions, and collaborating with experts in USA Health. She will help organize and execute our reopening plans, including specifying goals, initiatives, timelines and responsible parties. The logistics of reopening involve offices throughout the campus, and Dr. Estis will help us stay on track and be consistent in our plans and actions.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

July 17, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

In previous emails, I have written about the need and responsibility to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Our University community has a role in helping to control this pandemic, and I want to take some time to detail another major effort we all will share in: contact tracing.

Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts (people who may have been exposed), and working with them to interrupt disease transmission. For COVID-19, this includes asking people who test positive to isolate, and asking their contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.

The University Committee to Reopen Campus has approved a contact tracing procedure that prioritizes both privacy and public health, and the University is training nearly a dozen employees who will step into their new roles as contact tracers on Monday.

These are strong steps toward reopening our campus and providing as safe an environment as possible. They were drafted following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and with assistance from the Student Health Center and USA Health, which has been at the forefront for contact tracing in our area.

At USA Health, employees should continue to follow the procedures detailed on the USA Health website.

On the academic campuses, students, faculty and staff are required to self-report a positive COVID-19 result to the contact tracing team, and employees also must report to Human Resources. Supervisors have the additional responsibility to report cases they learn about from employees, and all faculty and staff must report cases they learn about from students. For information on these procedures, please see the Human Resources website. Information also appears on the USA reopening website under Information for Students, Information for Faculty and Information for Staff.

The contact tracer assigned to a case will ask the person with the positive test a series of questions to determine who that person has had close contact with, and who may be exposed. Generally, this will follow CDC guidelines on contact tracing — people within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes. For on-campus contacts, the tracer will ask these people to quarantine. For potential exposure outside the University community, cases will be forwarded to the Mobile County Health Department for follow-up.

At no point will the University tracer disclose the name of the COVID-positive person to contacts who may have been exposed, and measures will be taken to protect the infected individual’s information.

For students who need to isolate or quarantine, faculty will work with you to offer academic support for course completion.

Please take time to read the policies and procedures on the websites listed above and understand your responsibilities. Students with questions should contact USA OneStop at; employees should contact Human Resources at

Our contact tracing protocols are a critical component of our plan to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus this fall and provide as safe an environment as possible. Thank you for your commitment to the health and safety of our community.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

July 10, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

At the corner of Springhill Avenue and Lafayette Street, just a few blocks from the Strada Patient Care Center, work crews are clearing out the last of the debris from USA Health’s old Springhill Avenue Campus. To the north, the Fanny Meisler Trauma Center is nearing completion at University Hospital. To the south, USA Health’s partnership with Mobile Diagnostic Center has led to a new clinic that is under construction on Old Shell Road near Florida Street.

Such is the changing landscape of healthcare in south Alabama.

While we all are facing the challenges of the novel coronavirus, USA Health also is focused on our future and is delivering the unparalleled expertise of academic healthcare to our region. The last several years have brought infrastructure growth and new service lines, adding more than a dozen primary and specialty care locations in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

The latest major project is the planned rise of a free-standing emergency department across from campus at Old Shell and Hillcrest roads. In addition to the convenience for patients of a west Mobile emergency department, the facility will help in the training of our students who are pursuing careers in healthcare.

You can read more about the free-standing emergency clinic, the Fanny Meisler Trauma Center and the Mobile Diagnostic Center building in the latest issue of South Magazine.

Excellence in healthcare, as you know, is one of the University’s five priorities. Another is global engagement. The pandemic is bringing new challenges to both.

For Global USA, closed consulate offices, tighter borders and canceled flights present some uncertainty for international education. Earlier this week, a new federal policy was announced that would require international students to take at least one non-online class or risk losing their visas.

USA’s reopening plan allows for most classes to be in a blended format, with online coursework and some in-person instruction. International students enrolled in at least one of those classes should not be affected by the new policy, and we are working with our students who have questions to ensure they meet requirements.

Another change for fall semester relates to study abroad programs. The University is suspending full-semester study abroad for fall and will make a decision in November about spring semester study abroad. In the meantime, virtual experiences will be available.

International students bring immense value to our campus and enrich the educational experience for everyone on campus. As we prepare students for a global workforce, it is imperative that those born in the United States experience the culture and viewpoints of our international students and scholars.

If there’s one truth this pandemic has shown, it is how connected we really are. And it will take all of us working together to defeat it.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

July 2, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

As you may have heard, the City of Mobile yesterday approved a requirement that masks be worn in public areas where social distancing is not possible.

This action comes as reopening plans across the nation are met with record COVID-19 cases that, if not mitigated, threaten unnecessary sickness and economic fits and starts. It also comes at the urging of healthcare providers in Mobile County, including leaders at USA Health. We have been strong collaborators with the city and county in combating the novel coronavirus, including the operation of a testing site at the Mobile Civic Center where, combined with an earlier location, more than 7,500 people have been screened for COVID-19.

USA Health leaders also have been active in educating the community on prevention. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Chang this week reiterated through local media outlets that wearing facial coverings, maintaining social distancing and vigorous hand-washing are the three best ways to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The City of Mobile is not alone in its action. Masking is increasingly gaining support among state and local governments. Wearing masks, along with social distancing, is a critical component of our campus reopening plan. It will also be important as we head into what is normally a busy Independence Day holiday. As you celebrate, please be mindful of your health, and that of others, by following Dr. Chang’s advice:

  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering when you’re not in your home. Wearing a face covering can prevent you from infecting other people and may also have an impact on you becoming infected.
  • Maintain appropriate social distancing from others who don’t live with you.
  • Avoid large gatherings where social distancing can’t be maintained.
  • Wash your hands before handling food, after sneezing and coughing, and after using the restroom.
  • Always cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Maintain your overall health by eating properly, getting regular exercise and enough sleep, and continuing your scheduled health exams and appointments.

This holiday marks the first stage of building a new nation with America's Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The patriots were not declaring themselves free from governance, but instead were declaring independence from a distant and nonresponsive monarchy.

It was the beginning of a social contract for this country, a formal notice that the colonies would form their own government in support of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As we continue work on that social contract, the well-being of the nation and its people requires commitment from all of us.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

▼   Updates from June 2020

June 26, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

A few weeks ago, I communicated with you about the highlights of the University’s academic plan for reopening. Today, after diligent and careful work from the University Committee for Reopening Campus and its subcommittees, the University has released additional major components of its reopening plans.

A great deal of thought and discussion went into drafting the reopening plans, with University leadership and USA Health experts working to provide a blueprint for the fall semester. We have worked to prepare for the many logistical challenges of this pandemic while mapping a course that allows us to respond quickly should health conditions on campus, or in the region, warrant.

Students, parents, employees and visitors may access the University’s reopening website for information on schedules, processes and procedures. Included are the approved reports from each of the subcommittees, as well as key reopening dates and answers to frequently asked questions. The guiding principle of our plan is to provide a safe learning and working environment for the University community.

We all will need to adjust to new ways of operating. In addition to changes such as a revised academic calendar, social distancing and masking, our plans call for a staggered move-in to residence halls, take-out options for dining, some blended classes that include online instruction, COVID-19 screening and testing, hand sanitizing stations and protective barriers for offices. Employees will return in stages with guidance from their direct supervisors.

We are keenly aware that the evolving nature of this pandemic means that we must be prepared to shift into an online mode of instruction or take additional preventive measures if needed. While we have every intention of providing the best on-campus experience possible under the current circumstances, we will continue to make decisions with the health and safety of our community at the forefront.

What will not change is our tradition of Jaguar pride and the welcoming spirit of our University community. It will take a commitment from each of us, and our collective efforts, to make this plan a success.

I look forward to seeing you all on campus.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

June 19, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

We are on the cusp of summer, which officially begins tomorrow, and while the temperatures in Mobile have been seasonably warm, the humidity has been unexpectedly low, making for pleasant mornings and evenings. I’m sure the humidity will be with us soon, so I encourage you to enjoy this good weather while it lasts.

We continue to make progress toward our expected reopening of campus. This week, select groups of employees will begin to receive health screening surveys from USA Health, which will help us determine if any member of our community needs to be referred for COVID-19 testing before they return to work on campus. We are being very cautious in our approach by asking employees to return over time in small cohorts, and encouraging those who can work remotely to continue doing so for the time being.

As you know, some of our student athletes have already returned to campus, and this week we also welcomed our new medical and nursing students and physicians-in-training to the health campus for their clinical education. All of our students will receive some additional training because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as we continue our mission of preparing and educating the next generation of healthcare providers for all the challenges they will meet in their careers.

Although our incoming freshmen would ordinarily be attending in-person orientations right now, I’m very encouraged by the response to our virtual orientations, which began on June 9. To date, every session has been full, and our newest Jaguars have been busy connecting through social media and learning about South.

I want to close by noting that today is Juneteenth, a date that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. I encourage everyone to learn more about the history and importance of this date, and to reflect on what each of us can do to contribute to the ongoing national conversation on race and racism. A good resource to start with is the new “Talking about Race” portal on the website of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I hope all of you will have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

June 12, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

This week, 75 of our Jaguar student-athletes arrived on campus for strength and conditioning training in preparation for football season. Meanwhile, our third-year medical students returned to clinical activities at USA Health facilities. For these football players and physicians in training, the return includes the familiar, but also new ways of operating due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That will be the case for all of us.

The University Committee for Reopening Campus continues to review and approve plans for the return of students, faculty and staff. I expect these plans to be published on the University website later this month, along with a list of answers to frequently asked questions.

There are some details that have been finalized, specifically related to academics, that we now can share to help students and faculty prepare. The academic plan was approved after revisions based on constructive feedback from faculty, who will receive a copy of the plan today.

One of the most significant changes will be to the academic calendar. Classes will begin a day early, on Aug. 17, and two fall break days will be eliminated. Classes will end just before Thanksgiving, and students will not return to campus until January. Final exams will take place in-person before Thanksgiving or virtually in early December.

By compressing the fall calendar, we reduce the amount of time people are on campus as flu season begins to peak. We also lessen the chance of virus spread caused by sending students home for breaks and then bringing them back.

Most courses – including those listed as web-enhanced and web-blended – will be taught in a hybrid format, with some portion of instruction offered in-person while adhering to social distancing guidelines. In addition, faculty who are teaching in-person courses are encouraged to develop the course so that students who need to complete it online can do so.

Faculty also will be prepared to move classes completely online if the University deems it necessary to protect the health of our students, faculty and staff.

As a University with an academic healthcare system, we are fortunate to have the expert guidance of USA Health epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists in drafting plans for reopening campus. The health and safety of our USA community is paramount. That is why the University will ask for everyone’s cooperation in social distancing and adherence to a masking requirement.

All in-person classes will require that students are spaced out at least 6 feet apart. That may mean the in-person portion of a class might not be held at the same time for all students.

In addition, everyone will need to wear a face mask indoors, except when an individual is alone in a private office or lab, or when students are in their residence hall rooms with no visitors present. The University will provide each student and employee with two South-branded masks.

USA Health already requires employees and patients to wear masks in its hospitals and clinics, and virus spread in those facilities is remarkably low. While there is still a frustrating amount we do not know about the novel coronavirus, this much is clear: Properly worn masks can help limit its spread, and we must take reasonable and practical steps to keep each other safe.

Masking and social distancing are ways you can keep others, and yourself, from getting sick. This is supported by our own experts at USA Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We will have an educational campaign and signage available to promote both social distancing and masking. More information will be available in the full reports from the University Committee for Reopening Campus later this month, and you will receive an email with a link to our reopening information website.

Finally, I’d like to thank both our students and employees for their patience and support as we prepare to safely return. I look forward to seeing you on campus.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

June 5, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

The USA Board of Trustees today approved the administration’s recommendation to keep tuition level for the 2020-21 academic year. This is the second year in a row that the University has not raised the cost of tuition.

The Board also agreed to keep housing costs at current levels, and approved a modest increase of $50 in dining fees as a result of increased operating and food expenses.

The University, like other institutions around the country, is under pressure with unexpected expenses and a future revenues picture that remains unclear. But the University is on solid financial footing, and we understand that the students who attend South and their families also are under financial strain. We will live within our budget. Now is not the time to ask our students to pay more for tuition.

Also today, the Board approved our new Start South program, which will allow high school students to earn college credit from USA. USA faculty will teach all courses in this program, which will help us build a deeper connection with high schools in our region.

Earlier this week, University leadership issued a statement on the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I was encouraged by the resulting dialog at last night’s Courageous Conversations forum, hosted by the University’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and attended by more than 450 members of our community. Thank you to the moderators and panelists: Dr. Mike Mitchell, dean of students and vice president for student affairs; Dr. Joél Lewis Billingsley, associate professor in the College of Education and Professional Studies; Dr. Paul Frazier, USA chief diversity and inclusion officer; Zeke Aull, USA police chief; Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and USA journalist-in-residence; and Dr. John Friend, director of the University Counseling and Testing Center.

I want to end today’s letter with an update on our COVID-19 testing. USA Health employees have performed more than 4,000 tests — up to 200 a day — at the Ladd-Peebles Stadium site. While the location has worked well, during severe weather our employees must shelter inside and some of the tents have been damaged during storms. As a result, USA Health is moving to inside the Mobile Civic Center and will begin operations there June 8. Patients who have been referred for testing will actually drive into the arena through large doors. This will allow us to continue testing regardless of the weather outside. Thank you to our USA Health healthcare providers and staff who have been instrumental in making this change, and to the city for its support.

To everyone in our USA community, please stay safe, be kind to each other and stand alongside your fellow Jaguars.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

▼   Updates from May 2020

May 29, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

Summer does not officially begin until June 20, but we get an early start in the South. That typically means holding summer classes and welcoming new students to on-campus orientations.

We’re having to do things a bit differently this year. As you know, we’ve moved our summer courses online. We’ve done the same for fall orientation – at least the first part. New students will begin virtual orientations June 9, and the first several sessions are already full. During those sessions, students will get help registering for classes, receive information on housing and financial services, and get connected to all that South has to offer. Our plan is to have some in-person, small-group sessions when our freshmen arrive for fall classes.

We’ve recorded strong enrollment for summer courses, aided by a tuition adjustment waiving additional online fees for many students. That adjustment means our students, as a whole, are paying less this summer.

Interest for fall semester for both new and returning students is positive. This is due to the work of everyone who plays a role in recruitment and student services, particularly our staff in the Office of Enrollment Services. The initiatives we’ve undertaken include virtual visits and teleconference sessions with our deans. We’ve also continued with highly targeted digital marketing campaigns to prospective students, and adjusted our focus to include an emphasis on local and transfer recruitment so we can reach students who may feel more comfortable attending college close to home.

Though it’s still too soon to know how many students will enroll in the fall and how enrollment will impact our budget, our efforts and the interest so far are encouraging.

We’re also helping our students with the quick disbursement of CARES Act funding. To date, we’ve already paid out over $4 million of the approximately $5.7 million received to help students with financial needs, and we are continuing to process applications that have been submitted.

Next month, we’ll release guidelines for how students and employees can return to campus while maintaining a safe environment. Our hospitals and clinics have remained open, and have managed to keep COVID-19 cases down. One innovative process that USA Health has adopted is an online tool that allows its employees to check in before reporting to work. This type of screening tool is quickly becoming an industry standard. It is efficient, convenient and helps keep our employees and patients safe.

Because of the nature of the work carried out on our academic campus and in our USA Health facilities, there will be both similarities and differences in how we move forward. But health and safety always will be the focus for all of us.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

May 22, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

Each morning, Julee and I get up early and go for a 3-mile walk. This time of year, the air is still cool and the sun begins to rise before the end of our stroll. I’ve always enjoyed getting an early start, and walking with Julee and our new German Shepard, Buddy Blue, is one of my favorite times of the day.

During this pandemic, taking care of ourselves, mentally and physically, should be a priority for all of us. Yet I know it’s easy to lose focus, given the disruption in our lives. For me, having a routine and a partner is helpful. And I want to remind you that USA is here, even while you’re away from campus, to help you stay healthy.

The Department of Campus Recreation continues to host virtual classes six days a week on Zoom. The offerings include strength and cardio workouts along with yoga.

Student counseling is available for sessions through the Counseling and Testing Center, and the USA Psychological Clinic is offering consultations and therapy through tele-health to adults and children in our community.

Jaguar Productions put together a full list of programming for spring semester and is building out a summer schedule. Until then, its website offers a collection of virtual attractions in Mobile and beyond. More resources can be found on our South Strong website.

I know many of you are using your time to further your academic progress and taking advantage of the tuition rate adjustment for summer online classes. Taking a class in the summer is a good way to stay engaged and keep on track for graduation. Students can continue to enroll in advance of the summer session that begins June 3.

I want to finish with some good news. This video is being shared on social media, showing a patient leaving University Hospital after 47 days of treatment for COVID-19. He spent 30 of those days on a ventilator. The healthcare workers lining the hallways, and his wife cheering behind him, should give us all reason to smile – and be hopeful in even the most difficult situations.

I hope you and your families enjoy a safe Memorial Day Weekend.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

May 15, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope you had the chance to see USA’s virtual commencement ceremony last Saturday. I was pleased to watch the livestream along with nearly 3,000 USA students, family members and friends.

For students, please remember that Monday, May 18, is the deadline for submitting your application for an emergency grant through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) portion of the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. We have received thousands of applications to date, and will be processing the applications and making award notifications as quickly as possible.

Please keep in mind that while USA has received approximately $5.7 million in CARES Act funding to be distributed to students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount a student may receive is based on her or his individual circumstances and will be impacted by the total number of approved applications that the University receives, as well as the federal guidelines that direct the distribution of these funds.

As you know, every member of our USA community has made sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. After a careful analysis of current and anticipated budgetary shortfalls related to the pandemic and the potential impact of cost-saving measures on employees, we have implemented a four-month 4.5% reduction in pay for certain University administrative, staff and faculty employees whose salaries are $30,000 or more. This reduction does not apply to faculty on nine-month contracts, as their work was completed prior to the effective date of the salary reduction. In addition, the USA Health system already has implemented its own separate set of cost reduction measures.

Employees who are subject to the temporary pay reduction are eligible to receive four additional paid personal days during this time. After receiving input from faculty and staff, we have extended the period during which these days can be used to December 31, 2020.

While we recognize that any reduction in salary is difficult, it is necessary to address at least a portion of the expected budget shortfall the University expects to experience due to the pandemic. If you have questions about your specific situation, I encourage you to contact your supervisor or Human Resources.

At USA Health and at hospitals across the country, Emergency Department volume is down as people delay treatment. This can be risky, particularly for stroke and heart patients, and for those with infections, where time is critical for the best outcomes. USA Health has followed strict protocols when it comes to patient safety, and our healthcare teams are committed to providing quality, evidence-based care. I am thankful to all of our healthcare providers, but this week, at the conclusion of National Nurses Week, I specifically want to recognize and thank the hundreds of licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners who work at USA Health for their hard work and dedication to keeping us all healthy.

Finally, I want to remind everyone that our campus reopening committee and subcommittees continue to meet and work on plans for students, faculty and staff to return to campus by fall. This plan will require all of us to be flexible and work together as we implement needed changes to our operations, such as social distancing, new health and safety protocols, limits on the size of gatherings, and allowing employees to return in stages. The committee and sub-committees are moving quickly while being thoughtful and thorough. I plan to have more information for everyone in the next few weeks.

Tony G. Waldrop

May 7, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope you will make plans to join our University family this Saturday at 11 a.m. CDT to celebrate our 2020 spring and summer graduates with our virtual commencement. Graduates, families and friends can view the conferring of degrees by visiting the USA homepage at and clicking on the banner image. While this year’s ceremony will be different, the importance of this event remains the same. We continue to look at ways in which we can hold an in-person ceremony in the future, but for now I’m honored to be able to address our graduates and confer the degrees. Also speaking will be our academic deans and this year's Student Government Association president, Sahilee Waitman.

This week, the University began the process of distributing the funds USA has been allocated as part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) portion of the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. USA has received a total of approximately $5.7 million in funding that will be distributed directly to students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are moving as quickly as possible to get these funds to our students. For information on how to apply for this assistance, please visit USA’s HEERF website.

In addition to the $5.7 million in assistance that will be distributed directly to students, USA expects to receive additional federal assistance that can be used for institutional needs. University leadership is working through a process that will identify the best uses for these funds.

I regret having to end this message on a sad note, but as many of you may know, Dr. Brian Axsmith, a USA professor of biology, died this week after contracting COVID-19. Dr. Axsmith’s research interest was paleobotany; even those who didn’t know Dr. Axsmith may recognize him from the classes he conducted outside to enable his students to study plants and trees. He was a gifted and thoughtful speaker who made learning about biology accessible, he was well-regarded by both his students and colleagues, and he will be missed.

It’s important to know that while restrictions on movement begin to ease nationwide and here in Alabama, we all have a responsibility to each other’s health and safety. That means frequent hand-washing, avoiding large social gatherings and keeping at least 6 feet of distance between persons. These practical guidelines are not just about your safety, but about saving the lives of others. Let’s show what it means to be “in this together.”

Tony G. Waldrop

May 1, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

Spring has been a challenge for all of our students, especially our graduating students, who left for spring break not knowing that they had taken their last classes on campus. Graduation can be a bittersweet experience, this year even more so.

Let’s then recognize and honor our graduates, together. Please join me for a virtual commencement next Saturday, May 9, at 11 a.m. Central Time. You will be able to watch it on YouTube by clicking the large banner on USA’s home page,

This ceremony will be its own unique experience and cannot replace the commencement many of our graduates were expecting. To those students, please know that we are continuing to look for ways that we can honor you this fall on campus.

It is my sincere hope that, through virtual watch parties and intimate family gatherings, this commencement will be one to remember for all the right reasons: celebrating accomplishment, honoring community and anticipating better times ahead.

As we send our graduates off to their futures, we also are planning for the future of the University. I’m pleased to let you know that the University is planning to reopen campus and resume in-person classes and residential student living this fall. There is always the possibility that the evolving health risks or other circumstances associated with COVID-19 may require that we change our plans, but we are currently working through the many logistical issues associated with reopening our campus.

The most important step in reopening is to ensure that we can conduct classes and activities in a safe manner. To that end we have formed a committee tasked with laying the groundwork for reopening. This group has met twice, and an additional nine sub-groups have been formed to examine issues ranging from health and safety to academics, athletics and finance. The at-large committee expects recommendations back in the next few weeks so it can make decisions on how to proceed with reopening. We are moving quickly, but thoroughly, in order to allow for a safe return of our students and employees.

As you know, Governor Kay Ivey already is relaxing some restrictions statewide by replacing the Stay at Home order with a Safer at Home order. At USA Health, that will mean a return to elective surgeries and procedures. Healthcare and support staff will continue practices that have helped keep our hospitals as safe as possible, including limiting access of visitors and requiring facemasks, curbside triage for both hospital emergency departments, and eliminating communal patient waiting rooms at the hospitals.

To ensure an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, USA Health has found an innovative way to disinfect N95 masks for reuse. The sterilization staff each day collects the masks and cleans them with the same Xenex robot used to clean hospital rooms. The robot emits pulsed UV-C light to sterilize the masks before they are returned to their original users.

Just as USA Health is finding innovative ways to work around challenges, and commencement will be held in a way never done before, let us all continue to search for solutions that unite us behind preparation and purpose.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

▼   Updates from April 2020

April 24, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

As we take necessary precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including distance learning and working remotely for many of our employees, we also must begin to plan for how and when we reopen campus to the University community.

That is why I’ve appointed a committee charged with researching and recommending plans to welcome back students, faculty and staff. It still is too soon to say when that may happen, but I know we need to prepare for a smooth and safe transition. We surely cannot immediately go back to how we operated before the pandemic, so we’ll work to determine reasonable and responsible guidelines and a timeline for moving forward.

The committee includes healthcare and academic representatives. We’ll meet at least weekly, including our first at-large meeting today. Please let me know if you have any ideas you’d like brought to the table.

Through this pandemic, one thing has not changed –the generosity and dedication of our Jaguar community. The SouthFund annual employee and retiree giving campaign has concluded with 2,977 gifts totaling a record $1.23 million. More than half of our USA and USA Health employees donated, once again making the SouthFund campaign the envy of other universities and putting needed resources to scholarships, research, healthcare and other University activities. Thank you to all who gave, as well as the unit representatives and our co-chairs – Dr. Harold Pardue, graduate school dean; Dr. Michael Chang, USA Health chief medical officer; and Dr. Debra Davis, College of Nursing dean emeritus.

Dr. Chang also has been a leader in our coronavirus planning and response, which includes implementing safety protocols at our hospitals and clinics. Extensive COVID-19 screening occurs when anyone arrives at a USA Health facility. Each day, patients and staff are asked a series of questions and temperatures are taken to maintain as healthy of an environment as possible. Because of these protocols, and due to the hard work of our environmental services personnel, USA Health has been able to maintain its longstanding commitment to patient and employee safety.

Please remember and honor the commitment of our healthcare professionals by following social distancing and other guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on protecting yourself and others.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

April 17, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

We’re all learning to adapt to new ways of functioning. Some of these changes, like working from home, are temporary. Other behaviors, such as washing our hands more frequently, may become standard operating procedure. It’s too soon to tell what the new normal will look like.

In any case, COVID-19 is forcing us to change and innovate. We are ready for that challenge.

At USA Health, telemedicine is on the rise and will likely be factored into our long-term growth plans, as our providers look for new ways to reach patients without the need for them to come to a clinic or hospital.

Our Office of Research and Economic Development, recognizing the need to push innovation quickly, adapted its technology commercialization and industry collaboration practices — the procedure that moves a product from the lab to a commercial enterprise — by agreeing to non-exclusive, royalty-free licenses of intellectual property related to preventing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19.

And our faculty and students continue to meet the challenge of online, remote education, even if it comes with a learning curve. When we decided to move summer classes online, the University eliminated the additional online charges for most undergraduate students this summer. We wanted to remove barriers to students finishing their degrees on time, and our students have responded with strong interest in those courses.

We are all finding new ways to live and learn. I’m learning more about our teleconferencing technology, and I now have many daily meetings online. I have one scheduled for today with student leaders, after meeting with other students last week.

I’d much rather meet in person. I miss having everyone on campus. But I know I’ll see all of you when we can return safely.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

April 10, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

While many of us are displaced, at home or working remotely, it’s important we stay in touch. Each Friday for the remainder of the semester, I’ll be sending you an email with some notes I’ve made from the past week – items you may have missed, good news you should know about, and some reflections on how we can move forward together.

I had a conversation on Tuesday with eight student leaders to see how they are doing and hear their opinions on how we’re doing. Joining me on that video conference was Dr. David Johnson, provost; Dr. Mike Mitchell, vice president for student affairs; and Dr. Andi Kent, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and the incoming interim provost. We all seem to be, as one student put it, in a time of constant adjustment, so there certainly will be challenges. The students mentioned some challenges with online classes and grading that we are following up on, as well as the need to ensure our online video conferences are secure. I also heard of several instances where our faculty went the extra mile – beginning classes by checking on the students’ well being, giving extra time for assignments, and even an instructor who gave students his cell phone number so they could text him.

One way we’re helping our community stay connected is by making it easier to access campus resources remotely. We built a South Strong web page with more than a dozen listings of resources and services that we think might be helpful, and we’re continuing to add to that page.

While many of our faculty and main campus staff are working from home, our USA Health employees are at our hospitals and clinics treating patients, conducting research and taking care of our health facilities. I hope all of you will join me in thanking them for their incredible commitment to healing and serving the sick and vulnerable in our region. They are on the front lines of battling the coronavirus pandemic, and our community is grateful for their sacrifices. For the past two Sundays, people from throughout the community have gathered in their vehicles outside our hospitals and turned on their car lights to show support for our colleagues.

USA Health, in collaboration with the City of Mobile, is operating a COVID-19 testing site at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. About 20 healthcare employees from our physicians group are staffing the site, with significant support from our USA Health information technology department. By the end of this week, we expect to have seen 500 people who made appointments to be tested.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate students Richard Fu, Hannah Giannini, Samantha Michlowitz and John Pomerat, who are among a select group of students from across the country recognized as 2020 Goldwater Scholars. This is the first time that USA has achieved the maximum number of allowable annual recipients, and our students are four of only seven total from all Alabama universities to be recognized for outstanding achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Great work by Richard, Hannah, Samantha and John, and to the family and faculty members who supported them!

Until next week, be safe, and keep others safe, by continuing to practice social distancing.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

April 2, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

As a University community, we continue to have to make difficult decisions in our efforts to slow the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic.

In light of the projections for when the virus may peak in our area, we have decided to extend the use of online learning through the May and Summer terms. Students will not return to campus for classes this May/Summer. Courses scheduled to be taught on campus for the May term and for all Summer terms will be delivered in an online format.

We understand that many students may be dealing with difficult financial circumstances. With this in mind, the USA Board of Trustees approved a temporary tuition adjustment for the May and Summer terms. For undergraduate students who qualify for in-state tuition (Alabama and Service Area Residents), charges for all courses (excluding those already at a lower tuition rate in the RN to BSN program), whether originally scheduled to be on-campus or online, will be levied at the current applicable in-state tuition rate, and the higher web-based rate will not be charged. For out-of-state undergraduate students, charges for courses will be levied at the current applicable web-based rate rather than the higher out-of-state rate.

The University is considering providing on-campus housing for a limited number of students with special circumstances. If you will need on-campus housing for the summer, please contact the housing office at for more information.

South is a community with a shared purpose and genuine regard for all Jaguars. That is why we’ve put together a “South Strong” page on our University website to promote resources, advice and campus information, and even some virtual school spirit. South Strong provides information on everything from online tutoring and free counseling to financial assistance and chats with a librarian.

We will continue to communicate by email and online at as we make scheduling or operational changes. Thank you for your continued patience, understanding and commitment to our educational and healthcare missions.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

David Johnson, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President

John Marymont, M.D.
Vice President for Medical Affairs

April 2, 2020, Update to the USA Community

USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

Even though our campus has moved to limited operations and classes are being held online, South remains a community with a shared purpose and genuine regard for all Jaguars. That is why we’ve put together a South Strong page on our University website to promote resources, advice, campus information and even some virtual school spirit.

Instead of greeting one another on campus, we can share social media stories of #SouthAtHome. Instead of yoga at the Rec Center, we can work out at home through virtual classes. Instead of wearing our school colors on campus, we can download South backgrounds for Zoom chats.

South Strong provides information on everything from online tutoring and free counseling to financial assistance and chats with our librarians.

This semester is something different and challenging for all of us. Let’s make the best of it. Let’s stay South Strong.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

▼   Updates from March 2020

March 26, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear USA Employees and Students,

We take pride in being a close-knit community at South. We have strong bonds that have been built on connections – in classrooms and residence halls, and at sports and cultural events.

That is why it feels strange to urge that people keep their distance. Yet that is exactly what we must do.

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical distance between people – at least 6 feet – is one way we can reduce infections. Social distancing, staying home for non-essential personnel and regularly washing hands will help flatten the curve of this pandemic. You will save lives by following these directives.

Remember, if you’re not feeling well, please first contact your personal physician or practitioner, local health department or USA’s Student Health Center by phone for instructions on what you should do. Going to the hospital, urgent care or other facility without notifying your healthcare provider or health department could endanger patients and healthcare professionals.

Rethinking your normal routines is inconvenient, and maintaining physical distance means having to think twice. In the South, in particular, social distancing seems to go against who we are and how we live. We’re known for our hugs and handshakes. But now is not the time to let down your guard.

The sooner we stop the spread of COVID-19, the sooner we can resume life on campus for students, faculty and staff. The University is here to help until then. In the last few weeks, South has moved to distance learning for our spring semester and is offering a variety of online programs and resources to help students continue their education.

We’re in this together, but for now we must remain apart.

Thank you for all you do to keep South strong.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 20, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear USA Students,

The leadership of the University understands that the cancellation of our May commencement ceremonies is very disappointing to our graduating students, and this decision was not made lightly. We have heard from many of you with various suggestions and ideas for an alternative plan for commencement, and we are currently reviewing all of these options, including the possibility of postponing commencement ceremonies to a later date and inviting graduates back to campus.

As you know, the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve on a daily basis, and at this point we do not want to commit you and your families to a specific date or course of action that might have to be changed again. Please be assured we have heard your concerns, and while we are committed to making a decision as soon as possible about how to honor our May graduates, the changing circumstances surrounding this pandemic will dictate how soon a decision can be made. 

In the meantime, our regalia vendor, Graduate Supply House (, is working with our campus bookstore to mail regalia to graduates who have purchased, or want to purchase it. They also will issue refunds to those who have ordered regalia but would prefer a refund.

Your patience during this difficult time is greatly appreciated, and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible with a more specific plan of action.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

David Johnson, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President

John Marymont, M.D.
Senior Vice President and Dean, College of Medicine

March 19, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear Students,

As an additional way to accommodate and support you through the challenges presented by COVID-19, the last day to drop courses or withdraw from all courses for the Spring semester will be extended to the last day of classes, May 1, 2020. Before dropping a class or withdrawing, we strongly encourage you to communicate with your instructor and advisor.

G. David Johnson
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

March 19, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

As a University community, we’ve made many difficult decisions over the past few weeks to do our part to slow the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Unfortunately, we now must take an additional step that is logical, but extremely difficult. We must extend online learning and instruction for students and faculty for the duration of the spring semester. Students will not return to campus for classes this spring.

In addition, we will cancel May commencement ceremonies. We are particularly sad for our graduates and their families. This is an important time for them, and we thoroughly enjoy being a part of their big day. Please know that if you are a graduating student, we will do our best to find a way to recognize your achievements in the future.

It also is important to note that:

  • The transition from in-person instruction to online classes remains in effect. This decision extends the suspension of in-person instruction until the end of this semester. Contact your instructor with any questions about classes.
  • Degrees will be conferred to students who meet graduation eligibility. They will be mailed to students just as they are each fall and spring. Each graduate will also receive a printed copy of the commencement program.
  • If you ordered commencement regalia and would like to cancel your order, you may contact the Graduate Supply House.
  • Residential students should wait to receive authorization before returning to campus to checkout. Housing is developing a plan to stagger residence hall checkout. Please visit the Housing website for specific checkout instructions.
  • The University will send additional information regarding student account adjustments for room and board as soon as possible.

These decisions are being made now so that you and your families can plan, and so we can reduce uncertainty to the extent possible. These choices were not easy.

We are incredibly impressed by the strength and resilience we have witnessed in our community – from the dedication of our healthcare and hospital workers, who are preparing to face both the expected and unexpected challenges of COVID-19, to the flexibility and ingenuity of our faculty and students who now work with each other online instead of in the classroom.

We will continue to communicate by email and online at with any scheduling or operational changes. Thank you for your patience, understanding and commitment to our educational and healthcare missions.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

G. David Johnson, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President

John Marymont, M.D.
Vice President for Medical Affairs

March 18, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Effective Monday, March 23, all employees who need to be on campus will be required to display their University-issued employee identification cards. Cards should be attached to clothing or worn using a lanyard. If your card needs to be punched to accommodate the lanyard, you need a lanyard, or you have lost your ID card, assistance can be found at the campus Human Resources office. The hours of this assistance will be between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., on March 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27. The address of the Human Resources office is USA Technology & Research Park Building III, Suite 2200, 650 Clinic Drive. If you have questions about this, please call Human Resources at 251-460-6133.

G. Scott Weldon
Vice President, Finance and Administration

March 17, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear Students,

Thank you for your patience as we work diligently to best accommodate and support the USA community during this time of transition and uncertainty. We recognize that the response to coronavirus (COVID-19) creates hardship, but please know that we will do everything possible to continue to support your success.

Please keep the items below in mind:

  • Campus access is limited to essential personnel until further notice. All academic and non-academic buildings are closed, including Marx Library and the Student Center.
  • Watch your Jag email. Just like classes, student services, campus resources, and many organizations are all working online. Your Jag email is our primary point of contact for supporting your ongoing work at USA.
  • Visit the university webpage, and homepages for your department and other offices. Current information should be available through both email and on webpages.
  • We understand that these changes can increase stress and anxiety. Counseling and Testing is continuing to offer virtual appointments and provides extensive online resources for downloading and viewing

Finally, our One Stop/South CARES team is working to support students displaced or impacted by programming adjustments in light of the COVID-19 public health threat. Information regarding academic, financial, and campus resources can be found by accessing our One Stop/South CARES webpage.

Many university offices will be operating with staff working from home to protect their health and safety as well, but all offices remain functional as we are dedicated to the continuation of serving our students. If you have trouble accessing the One Stop/South Cares webpage please call our team at (251) 341-4USA or email for assistance.

We understand that this situation will cause some consternation and anxiety, but we assure you that we will, as a USA community, make it through this challenging time. Although this is a fluid and sometimes rapidly changing situation, please know that your safety and well-being are at the forefront of our thoughts and actions.

Please stay tuned and stay healthy.

March 17, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear USA Faculty and Staff,

Based on the latest COVID-19 developments and best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and federal authorities, the University of South Alabama main campus will transition to limited on-campus operations in order to minimize in-person contact between employees.

Main campus supervisors should immediately make plans to transition to remote work for all employees who are able to perform their job responsibilities from a remote location. The transition to remote work can begin as soon as the office or department is prepared to do so, and will continue until further notice.

For some departments and offices, a transition to remote work for all employees in that area may not be possible. University leadership is currently exploring ways to keep all offices and departments functioning while limiting on-campus work schedules of employees whose job functions do not permit work from home. Additional information will be provided no later than Friday, March 20.

USA Health employees will receive a separate email with specific information about their work schedules.

Employees working remotely must remain available to come to campus as needed, and supervisors should make arrangements to ensure that office and department email and phone messages continue to be responded to in a timely manner. For voicemail instructions, please see the telecommunications website or contact Telecommunications at or (251) 341-3999.

Employees working remotely who need computer assistance may contact the Computer Services Center helpdesk at or (251) 460-6161.

Main campus employees working remotely are permitted to come to campus and access their offices as approved by their supervisors, however, employees are not permitted to bring family members or other non-employees to campus with them.

Payroll services will continue to process payroll normally during this time of limited operations, and regular, permanent employees will continue to be paid. All employees must continue to fill out their time sheets. Specific instructions with respect to completing time sheets will be forthcoming.

Additional information will be sent as soon as it is available. Please continue to monitor your email and the USA Coronavirus website for updates.

Your cooperation and dedication to the continued successful operation of the University is greatly appreciated by our entire leadership team.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 14, 2020, Update to the USA Community

USA Employees and Students,

Additional areas of the United States have been added to the required self-quarantine areas covered under the USA COVID-19 travel requirements, including all international destinations as well as the states of New York, California, Massachusetts and Washington. Employees and students should visit the website and ensure they comply with the requirements:

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

G. David Johnson, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President

March 13, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear Students,

With the recent developments of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the likelihood of cases occurring in our community, Student Health strongly encourages all students with cold and/or flu like symptoms to call (251) 460-7151 before coming to the Student Health Center.

If you feel you are a non-emergency situation, please follow CDC guidelines and self-quarantine. You can call the Alabama Department of Public Health Infectious Disease and Outbreaks Division at 1-800-338-8374 to see if you need to be tested.

We currently are not able to test anyone for COVID-19 at Student Health and are unsure when or if we will be able to do so. If you have an emergency, please call ahead. You can reach the University Hospital Emergency Department at (251) 471-7300 and the Children's & Women's Emergency Department at (251) 415-1144.

If you are seeking an appointment for physicals, immunizations, annual exams or anything that can be done at a future date it is advised at this time to wait until this crisis is over to make those appointments.

If you have any questions, please call Student Health at (251) 460-7151 or email us at

Thank You,

Ryan Ferguson
Director of Student Health

March 13, 2020, Update to the USA Community

USA Employees,

Now that the decision has been made to suspend in-person instruction and transition to online classes at least until April 19, I am writing to provide you with additional information regarding main campus operations.

First, let me assure you that we have processes in place to ensure that employees will continue to be paid. Our Division of Financial Affairs is currently planning for contingencies that include, for example, working from home, if needed, to ensure payroll operations are not interrupted.

Second, our campus is not closed at this point, although access to and from the main campus will be limited by USA Police to USA South Drive and the newly named Jaguar Boulevard (formerly Stadium Boulevard). All administrative and staff employees should continue to report to work and expect to work a regular schedule unless otherwise notified. Faculty are encouraged to work from home if at all possible.

For both Faculty and Staff, I urge you to limit meetings and, whenever possible, conduct meetings via remote conferencing. More information on how to do this is available on the Innovation in Learning Center’s Zoom website.

Additional information will be sent to health system employees about processes and procedures.

A few other significant changes are needed to maintain the best possible conditions for health and safety on our campus:

  • All non-essential hourly student work is suspended as of the end of the work day on Friday, March 13. This means that no student workers can be working except those specifically approved to report to work by the Vice President of the respective divisions. Such approval must be requested and received in writing from the Vice President. Supervisors should immediately inform your student workers of this change.
  • All events, meetings and gatherings of more than 50 people are required to be canceled immediately. More information on rescheduling these events will be sent when possible.
  • The Student Center and Student Recreation Center will close to all meetings and activities until further notice, effective Friday, March 13, 2020 at 5 p.m.

These are difficult times, and we recognize that these changes represent inconvenience and hardship for our University community. At the same time, however, we must do what is best for the health, safety and continuity of the University and its people. We will continue to keep you informed of new developments, and I thank you for your hard work, dedication and spirit during this challenging time in our history.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 13, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear Students,

In response to the serious public health threat from a novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the University of South Alabama has made the decision to cancel on-campus classes during the week of March 16 through March 22 for all classes except for those offered by the College of Medicine. Students are encouraged to remain home during this period.

Note that fully online courses will continue to operate as previously scheduled during this time.

Beginning March 23, 2020, courses that previously were offered on-campus, in either a face-to-face, or hybrid method, will resume in a fully online format. These courses will continue to be delivered in an online format through at least April 19, 2020. If conditions permit, these classes will resume on-campus on April 20. If conditions are not improved by that time, these classes will finish the semester in an on-line format. The decision to resume classes on campus, or continue on-line, will be made at a later time.

Our faculty are committed to your success and will clearly communicate with you when your on-campus courses are moved online. Faculty will also clearly communicate their expectations and will be there to support you through the transition. It is our goal to do our utmost to minimize disruption for you in completing your coursework and having a successful semester as we take actions to protect the health of our campus community.

Because all of your on-campus courses will move online by Monday, March 23, 2020, we are asking that you utilize the following resources:

  • Make sure that you have signed up for announcement notifications in Sakai or Canvas. Course updates will come from your instructor via announcements.
  • Familiarize yourself with your course content in Sakai and Canvas. Your instructor will provide more details about assignment submission and exams beginning on March 23. Please consult Sakai or Canvas for navigational support.
  • What about internships, labs or clinical rotations? For questions regarding department specific requirements, please be on the lookout for an email from the department chair, program coordinator, or instructor of the course.
  • Residence halls are closed until face-to-face classes resume. If you have extenuating circumstances and are not able to vacate or retrieve necessary belongings and you need to request an extension, please email as soon as possible. Housing will contact all residence hall students by email with additional and more detailed closure information.
  • Signed up for study abroad this summer or fall? Announcements about study abroad may be found at USA’s International Education website.

The University is taking these actions to protect the health of our students, faculty, and other employees and to help limit the spread of infection in our community. We appreciate your willingness to help in these efforts.

David Johnson, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 13, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear Faculty Member,

As you are aware, many universities are making the decision to transition all courses to an online format due to the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19. On the recommendation of the University Pandemic Emergency Management Team, we have been advised to begin moving on-campus courses online. To give you time to prepare for this move, we are canceling on-campus courses next week (March 16 through March 22, 2020) for all classes except for those offered by the College of Medicine.

Students are being asked to remain home and should not be required to come to campus during this time. Courses that are already fully online will continue on their normal schedule and should continue to be delivered as scheduled for the remainder of the semester, including next week (March 16 through March 22, 2020).

Faculty teaching on-campus courses should be prepared to deliver these courses online beginning March 23, 2020. These courses will continue to be delivered in an online format through at least April 19, 2020. If conditions permit, these classes will resume on-campus on April 20. If conditions are not improved by that time, these classes will finish the semester in an on-line format. The decision to resume classes on campus, or continue on-line, will be made at a later time.

Faculty should coordinate these efforts with their department chairs and program coordinators. Faculty should incorporate any course objectives missed due to the one week cancellation of on-campus courses into the remainder of the term if feasible. If not feasible, faculty should work with program coordinators and department chairs to determine the best approach to satisfy course objectives.

Faculty teaching courses that cannot be moved to the online environment should work with program coordinators and department chairs with the goal of lessening the negative impact on students while also maintaining academic quality.

I encourage all faculty, full-time and part-time, to follow these steps to ensure an effective online transition:

  1. Establish a communication plan with your students. Use announcements in Sakai or Canvas to let your students know that the course will be moving online. Outline how (via announcements) and when they should expect to hear from you (e.g. daily). You may also let the students know that you will share all final exam updates as they are made available. Students should be made aware of any synchronous meeting requirements and faculty are encouraged to be flexible.
  2. Create and share a plan for at least two weeks of instruction.Gather the next two weeks’ instructional materials and generate a plan for sharing this information in Sakai or Canvas. You are encouraged to set realistic goals for the remainder of the semester that preserve academic quality but also minimize the negative impact on students when possible. The university offers Zoom­ for holding and recording real time meetings and Panopto for recording videos.

The ILC is also offering webinars and one-on-one consultation to assist you in your course transition.

You can reach the ILC by email at Please visit the webpages below for resources and updated information:

Faculty Information for Working and Teaching Remotely:

ILC Live Events for Transitioning to Fully Online

Thank you for your willingness to help the University respond effectively to this public health threat and to continue to fulfill our responsibilities to our students.

G. David Johnson

March 12, 2020, Update to the USA Community

The message sent to the University community earlier today regarding the policy on personal travel and quarantine requirements has been updated to clarify the areas of travel that are subject to these requirements. As these areas will quickly evolve, the “Travel Requirements” link on the University’s Coronavirus website now contains a list of these areas, which will be updated daily or as soon as new information becomes available.

The updated section of the statement reads as follows:

Employees and students returning from international travel or travel to a domestic area impacted by COVID-19 should self-quarantine for a period of 14 days and must self-report this travel to their respective supervisor, program coordinator or department chair. These areas are currently defined as all international destinations, as well as the United States regions of Washington State and Westchester County, New York. An up-to-date list of defined areas is posted at and will be updated daily, or as soon as new information becomes available. The University will require a 14-day period of self-quarantine before returning to campus or clinical placements for these travelers. If such a period of self-quarantine is required after personal travel deemed at-risk, employees will be required to utilize accrued leave for that period.

March 12, 2020, Update to the USA Community

As you are aware from previous communications, the University Pandemic Emergency Management Team is closely monitoring the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). The University of South Alabama is a globally engaged institution with faculty, staff, and students who frequently travel internationally as well as domestically. The health and safety of our university community is a top priority for the institution. Please check frequently the University homepage at for updates.

In light of the current outbreak of COVID-19 and the fact that the World Health Organization has now declared it a global pandemic, we are taking all reasonable precautions to keep our community safe and informed. Based on the expanding global outbreak, the significant risk of exposure during travel, and guidance from experts in public health and infectious disease, the University of South Alabama is implementing interim travel guidelines and restrictions. With the exception of those trips currently underway, all upcoming university-sponsored international faculty, staff, and student travel is suspended effective immediately and until further notice.

Additionally, all non-essential university-sponsored domestic travel is suspended. Domestic travel deemed essential will require the approval of the respective Vice President and the President. Employees with out-of-pocket expenses related to cancelled trips should contact the University Travel Services Office at 460-6242 for guidance.

Although these travel guidelines and restrictions do not apply to personal travel, employees and students are encouraged to reconsider any planned air travel, cruise ship travel, travel to areas identified by the Centers for Disease Control as at risk for COVID-19, and travel to group meetings or events. Employees and students who are considering personal travel are cautioned to carefully review the risk of exposure and of travel disruption and employees should notify supervisors of their destinations should they decide to travel.

Travelers returning to campus from international destinations will have to comply with U.S. re-entry and quarantine or self-isolation requirements and travelers returning from certain domestic areas will face similar requirements. Additionally, returning travelers may be required by the University to remain at home for a self-quarantine period. Returning employees should coordinate with their supervisors about missed work and returning students should coordinate with course instructors and advisors about missed class time if quarantine or self-isolation is required.

Employees and students returning from international travel or travel to a domestic area impacted by COVID-19 should self-quarantine for a period of 14 days and must self-report this travel to their respective supervisor, program coordinator or department chair. These areas are currently defined as all international destinations, as well as the United States regions of Washington State and Westchester County, New York. An up-to-date list of defined areas is posted at and will be updated daily, or as soon as new information becomes available. The University will require a 14-day period of self-quarantine before returning to campus or clinical placements for these travelers. If such a period of self-quarantine is required after personal travel deemed at-risk, employees will be required to utilize accrued leave for that period.

The University is closely monitoring the developing situation and will update travel guidelines as CDC risk levels change. These interim guidelines will remain effective for a minimum of 30 days and will be extended as long as warranted by the level of risk.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.
University of South Alabama

March 2, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear USA Students and Employees,

The University is continuing to monitor reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

To ensure the University is adequately prepared to follow guidance and directives from the CDC and other relevant agencies, I have activated the University’s Pandemic Emergency Management Team. This team includes representatives from all relevant areas of the University and is led by Dr. Michael Chang, Chief Medical Officer for USA Health. The team is reviewing processes and plans for appropriate responses to the evolving information about COVID-19.

As we learn more each day about COVID-19, the management team will continue to meet, assess reports and information, and make decisions about appropriate actions. Depending on roles and responsibilities, employees may be receiving additional, more specific information from the leadership of their areas.

Students should continue to monitor their University email accounts during Spring Break for any announcements. The University is currently evaluating the impacts on students who are or will be studying abroad, and will communicate with students on a case-by-case basis regarding their specific circumstances.

In the meantime, please remember that following guidelines for prevention of virus transmission is a very important part of our shared responsibility. Precautions for preventing transmission of COVID-19 are similar to prevention practices for flu and other respiratory illnesses. These include: frequently washing your hands; not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; and routinely cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces.

I encourage students, faculty and staff to educate themselves about the virus, its symptoms and the geographic areas where the virus is most widespread. In particular, students and employees are urged to use caution when considering travel to areas where the virus is prevalent. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC website at In addition, updates and information are being posted to USA’s Student Health Center website.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Cases have ranged from people being mildly sick to being severely ill and dying. At this point, the CDC believes symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure.

If you believe you have become ill from, or have been exposed to, this virus, please take appropriate precautions to not spread it. This includes staying in your dwelling and limiting your contact with other people. Employees should contact their primary care provider, and students should contact the USA Student Health Center at (251) 460-7151 or studenthealth@southalabama. edu.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.


▼   Updates from January 2020

January 30, 2020, Update to the USA Community

Dear USA Students and Employees,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Cases have been confirmed in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States.

As we learn more each day about the coronavirus, I encourage students, faculty and staff to educate themselves about the virus, its symptoms and the geographic areas where the virus is most widespread. In particular, students and employees are urged to use caution when considering travel to areas where the virus is prevalent. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the CDC website at

Precautions for preventing transmission of the coronavirus are similar to prevention practices for flu and other respiratory illnesses. These include: frequently washing your hands; not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; and routinely cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Symptoms of coronavirus can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Reported illnesses have ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill and dying. The CDC believes symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure.

If you believe you have become ill from, or have been exposed to, this virus, please take appropriate precautions to not spread it. This includes staying in your dwelling and limiting your contact with other people. Employees should contact their primary care provider, and students should contact the USA Student Health Center at (251) 460-7151 or

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.
University of South Alabama