Tag Archives: COVID-19

TSU Nursing Graduate Returns Home After Fighting COVID-19 in New York, Credits University with Preparing Her

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Keisha Coleman is finally home for a well-deserved rest. For three months straight and working 13-hour shifts, the traveling nurse and Tennessee State University graduate was on the front line caring for COVID-19 patients in New York.

Keisha Coleman is taking a month off after caring for COVID-19 patients in New York. She plans to return to the front line. (Submitted Photo)

“I love my patients and I miss them but I was excited to come home,” says Coleman, a critical care nurse who worked in the intensive care units at several hospitals in New York.

“I didn’t want to leave them, but I was ready to come home just to see my family because they were home worried for me as well. My mom couldn’t sleep, she would text me late nights on the job to see if I am okay.”

Coleman always wanted to work in critical care and she says TSU prepared her well for the challenge. After earning her associate’s degree in nursing in 2017, she worked at Nashville General Hospital and St. Thomas Midtown Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit. After some time at St. Thomas, Coleman says she decided to be a traveling nurse, “and just then, COVID came.” Her first assignment was New York, one of the country’s hardest hit states.

“It was tough and scary at first, but I do think TSU prepared me well to be the nurse and strong woman I am,” says Coleman. “At some point of my assignment, instead of the usual two, I had four to five critical patients, who were sedated, on ventilators and paralyzed. It was scary when you have all of these critical patients you have to take care of.  You get to thinking about yourself, your health. Some nurses got infected. I can honestly say I was nervous about contracting the virus, but I came back home and I tested negative.”

Keisha Coleman earned her nursing degree from TSU in 2017. (Submitted Photo)

Like many healthcare workers on the front line in the early days of the pandemic, Coleman says the task was daunting – long hours, influx of patients and shortage of critically needed PPE’s, or personal protective equipment.

“From day one we were limited on PPEs that were needed to go in the rooms to take care of patients,” says Coleman. “When I got there, we had all COVID patients. When we gowned up, we had to go to multiple rooms with that one gown. Normally, we would take off that gown prior to leaving the room. Since we were so limited, we had to use the same gown in different patients’ rooms. It was so bad that at some points we had to use bleach to wipe down our gowns to reuse them. We were limited on gloves, masks and certain medications.”

Amid the shortage, Coleman says the patient load continued to climb, as hospitals ran out of space for patients and places to store the mounting number of dead people.

“After a lot of those patients died we didn’t have any rooms,” recalls Coleman. “We were putting them on the roof, in the basement and some in a tractor trailer outside. As all three places were full, we started putting bodies on a sled and just dump ice on them,” she says.

By the end of May, Coleman says things started to slow down. Some patients who had been admitted for up to three months began to get better – being able to walk, learn to talk, and breathe on their own.

“It was a good feeling,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave them, but I was ready to come home. But I am glad I went. It really was a humbling and rewarding experience. It is good to have this experience firsthand to tell my future children, and that I was on the front line helping.”

While Coleman’s situation was dire, she is one of several TSU nursing school graduates among the thousands of healthcare workers around the country responding to the influx of patients suffering from COVID-19. They’re conducting screenings, communicating to patients’ families, and above all, caring for the critically ill.

Dr. Pinky Noble-Britton, associate professor and director of TSU’s BSN program, says like Coleman, TSU nursing students are prepared to perform at the highest level of their profession in administering safe patient care.

“We push them and they are expected to use whatever resources they have to their best ability,” says Noble-Britton.

Knowing that her work is critical, especially with the new surge in coronavirus cases across the country, Coleman says she plans to take another month off and then head back to helping COVID patients.

“I plan to go back and help in one of the other states, like Florida, Texas or Arizona, which are epic centers,” says Coleman. “My plan is to travel and change lives, and just to know that I made a difference.”

Coleman also plans to return to TSU to earn her BSN degree. The program is now accepting applications for Fall 2020. The Traditional B.S.N. at TSU provides an instructional environment that teaches students how to provide holistic, ethical and culturally sensitive care to clients across the lifespan. To learn more about TSU’s nursing program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nursing/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU fall reopening plan provides additional safety protocols, fee discounts for students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University officials said they are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students this fall. TSU will reopen under a comprehensive plan that will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the health and safety of the campus community, along with student discounts.  

TSU President Glenda Glover

Currently, the plan is to begin the fall semester on August 17, with all classes online for the first two weeks. Due to COVID-19, there will be both in-person and online instruction throughout the semester, which will end by Thanksgiving.

“This innovative and comprehensive plan for fall 2020 was developed in consultation with TSU stakeholders and public health officials,” Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover said July 8 in a letter to TSU students, faculty and staff.

“This pandemic is unlike any challenge we have ever faced.  All decisions have been made with the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff as the top priority.” 

With that in mind, TSU is implementing a 14-day “safer in place” policy upon arrival for all students in residence halls. The policy requires students to stay in their places of residence unless they need to perform essential activities, such as getting food, or going to medical appointments.

Aleyah Hargrove

Transfer student Aleyah Hargove, like many new students attending TSU for the first time, understands things will be different but is still looking forward to the college experience. The business major from Goodlettsville said that, based on the plan, she believes the University is taking the right measures to keep everyone safe. 

“I am excited to attend TSU and have the campus experience despite the pandemic,” Hargrove said. “Though it will be somewhat different, I’m confident efforts are being made to learn in a safe environment”.

Matthew Benton, a rising senior and fellow business major, said he’s decided to take all-online courses. 

“I really appreciate all that the University is doing for student safety, but my parents and I have decided it is in my best interest to attend remotely,” said Benton, who is from Atlanta. 

“It was really a tough decision. I’m sad I’ll be missing out on campus life. I’ve talked with several of my friends and they have mixed feelings, and haven’t made a decision yet.”

In addition to other safety measures, such as wearing of face coverings and social distancing at all times, classrooms and buildings will be cleaned and sanitized regularly. (TSU Media Relations)

The University is also offering discounts of up to 15 percent on fees and tuition for students who take all online courses. These discounts will depend on students’ in-state or out-of-state status. Additionally, students who choose to do so will be allowed to cancel their housing and receive a full refund of their deposit. The discounts come on the heels of the University announcing that it is freezing tuition with no increase this year.

 “I am pleased that these discounts will result in significant savings for our students during these challenging times,” said Dr. Glover, adding that the university will also continue to offer laptops and technology devices to students that need them.

In addition to a Pandemic Task Force that has been meeting just about every day to address issues related to the coronavirus, President Glover also appointed a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

Classrooms are being assessed to determine the number of students who can occupy each room, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Computer labs are also being marked to determine the number of persons allowed to use them at the same time. Desks and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day for classes, labs, and public areas between usage.

Other campus safety measures include required wearing of face coverings and social distancing at all times; regular cleaning and sanitizing of buildings; temperature checks upon entering campus and randomly throughout campus; installation of shields throughout the campus; and establishment of a non-emergency COVID-19 phone line and email for reporting concerns.

The University will also work closely with the Tennessee Department of Health for contact tracing. For any positive diagnostic test results, TSU will follow the protocols in place and adhere to state reporting guidelines.  A contact tracing team will be in place to identify potential secondary cases to limit the spread of infection. TSU has also established its own early contact tracing.

For athletics, the University has a comprehensive plan that outlines the safe return to training, practice and competition for student-athletes, and also complies with public health guidelines and NCAA and Ohio Valley Conference requirements. Part of this plan includes a delayed opening for the upcoming football season, set for the end of September. The first three games of the season will not be played. The University is still reviewing information pertaining to the Homecoming game on October 10.

On July 8, TSU held a COVID-19 tabletop exercise that was coordinated by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The three state agencies praised the University for its level of commitment among all divisions in creating a comprehensive plan for the campus, including safety protocols, testing and tracking. 

“What we saw here with TSU is that you have an administration that’s being collaborative and finding ways to mitigate the threat of COVID-19,” said Jeff Brown, a planner with TEMA and key facilitator of the tabletop. 

“They want to open campus up and I think they are taking the right precautions through communicating with each other and coming up with contingency plans on how to deal with any potential problems down the road.”

In an effort to provide outreach services to the community, TSU launched the COVID-19 Academy in May to connect residents with crucial resources.  Areas include health services, such as telehealth and telemedicine providers, food banks and pantries, as well as employment and educational resources. 

“The academy will work to bridge the health care disparity for people of color that experts say will have a lasting impact for generations to come,” said Glover. “This is being done through a holistic approach combining access to care, human services and education.” 

The university will continue to monitor the virus and make changes to the reopening plan if there is a continued surge of reported cases in Davidson County and the State of Tennessee.

To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plans for fall reopening, visit www.tnstate.edu/return.

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU uses $200K grant to provide students financial assistance for fall 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Students interested in attending Tennessee State University this fall could get financial assistance to help with expenses. TSU is using a $200,000 grant from the Charles E. Schell Foundation for Education to help new and returning students stay in school by providing financial relief to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

TSU President Glenda Glover

The Foundation was established as a revolving student loan program, with Fifth Third Bank as trustee. Qualifying students will receive a maximum of $2,000.

“TSU is appreciative of the collaboration with the Schell Foundation and Fifth Third Bank and their support of the university and our students,” says President Glenda Glover. “The funds will not only help our students to stay in school, but will also provide a form of relief to them and their families impacted by COVID-19 and the economic downturn we are currently experiencing.”

The foundation gave TSU $100,000 last year, but decided to double the amount this year, partly because of the hardship many students are facing as a result of COVID-19. 

“We are pleased to honor Mr. Schell’s wishes to grant these loan dollars to Tennessee State as its administration helps students with expenses on their educational journey,” says Heidi Jark, senior vice president and managing director, The Foundation Office at Fifth Third. “Part of the mission of the Foundation Office at Fifth Third Bank is continuing our clients’ philanthropic impact that provides pathways to opportunity.” 

Applicants will be required to meet the selection criteria established by the Charles E. Schell Foundation. They must be citizens of Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and states adjoining them (including Tennessee); and be between the ages of 18-25, with a minimum 2.0 grade point average. Students are also asked to sign a promissory note to repay the funds to create a revolving loan fund to benefit future TSU students.

The grant is one of several ways TSU is helping students during these unprecedented times. 

To help students interested in attending TSU, the University is temporarily waiving the ACT and SAT scores as requirements for incoming freshmen for Fall 2020, and will accept an unofficial transcript.  However, students will still be required to have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and a completed application. Students transferring from a 2-year or 4-year institution must submit an official transcript from the last college or university attended. 

Not long after TSU students began distance learning in March, President Glover and other university administrators held a live meeting via Zoom with over 200 student leaders to assure them that TSU is dedicated to helping them succeed.

TSU student Treveon Hayes, who will be a sophomore in the fall, says the University’s assistance has been motivating to him and other students.

“It’s been an adjustment, but I have goals, and I can’t let anything stop me from reaching them,” says Hayes, an elementary education major from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Other efforts by TSU to help students include: a virtual hourly-workshop on completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA; the 250-Mile Radius Tuition Rate for students from high schools in surrounding states; the HOPE scholarship for Tennessee residents; the Academic High Achiever Scholarship; the TSU Academic Work Scholarship; the TSU Building Bridge Grant, and several others.

To learn more about TSU’s financial aid programs, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Infectious Disease Control Expert Suggests Universities Do Fall Openings in Phases

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With new coronavirus hot spots emerging across the country as states continue to ease restrictions, and some universities consider re-opening for the fall, a TSU infectious disease control expert says, “not so fast.”

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, professor and director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences, says when it comes to universities, re-openings and easing of restrictions must be done in phases, “not all the way.”

“Our students come from all over the world and from so many different backgrounds, and for some, it is not feasible to work remotely, long term. TSU is their home, their jobs are here,” says Inman, a public health professional who was previously the chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee.

 “Let some students come back to campus, especially if they need a place to stay, and a place to study.  Provide them with essential tools to complete their education, and for many of them that includes a safe place to live and from which to work.” 

TSU Media Relations

In Tennessee, especially Davidson County where officials have seen a recent uptick in the virus, while some institutions, including TSU consider plans for fall opening, Inman says universities should limit in-person face-to-face interactions with faculty and staff, but require faculty and staff to provide digital, visual interactions. 

In May, TSU announced it was planning to start classes in the fall, but under additional safety protocols to protect the public health and safety of its students and employees. President Glenda Glover appointed a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

“We are evaluating and developing operational safety measures, best practices, and academic related logistical options to prepare for the return of students in the fall with the focus on the health and safety of the campus community,” President Glover said recently in a correspondence with TSU faculty and staff.  

Courtesy: TDH

“These measures will include the ongoing cleaning of campus facilities, the use of larger classrooms and hybrid in-person and online course presentations, and the implementation of appropriate social distancing standards.”

Like most higher education institutions across the country, TSU’s students completed the semester online and the majority of the university’s employees continue to work remotely.

Inman says as a part of a re-opening plan, and “to make a TSU education” even more special during COVID-19, the university should assess each student and each department for their ability to reach their students.

“Use COVID-19 resources to equip each faculty member with a cellular device, specifically to respond to student and university calls,” she says.

TSU is already implementing many of the things Inman proposes. Whether students are on campus or not, the university has taken steps to meet their needs. For those students who needed digital devices to complete their online coursework for the semester and summer, the university provided them with more than 40 laptops and tablets.

 
“TSU plans to phase in the reopening and return of its students,” says Dr. Curtis Johnson, Chief of Staff and head of the Fall Course Delivery Task Force. “we will be monitoring the virus, the number of people and areas impacted, and of course the university will do all due diligence to make it as safe as possible.”

TSU students say they appreciate the university’s effort to accommodate them, especially their instructors, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face-to-face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU planning to start classes in the fall, created task force for additional safety measures and best practices

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is planning to start classes in the fall, but under additional safety protocols to protect the public health and safety of its students and employees.

In addition to a Pandemic Task Force that currently meets every day to address COVID-19 related issues, TSU President Glenda Glover is appointing a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

“We are evaluating and developing operational safety measures, best practices, and academic related logistical options to prepare for the return of students in the fall with the focus on the health and safety of the campus community,” President Glover said recently in a correspondence with TSU faculty and staff.  

“These measures will include the ongoing cleaning of campus facilities, the use of larger classrooms and hybrid in-person and online course presentations, and the implementation of appropriate social distancing standards.”

While the plan is to open as planned for the fall, TSU officials said that will change if the threat of COVID-19 resurfaces.

Meanwhile, like most higher education institutions across the country, TSU’s students completed the semester online and the majority of the university’s employees continue to work remotely.

TSU has also postponed or cancelled all in-person events until further notice. Several events are occurring virtually as arranged by the respective divisions of the university.

Whether students are on campus or not, TSU has taken steps to meet their needs. For those students who needed digital devices to complete their online coursework for the semester and summer, the university provided them with more than 40 laptops and tablets.

Last month, TSU students received housing and meal refunds, and the university is currently using millions of federal dollars to help with student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The university has distributed the funds as emergency financial aid grants to students.

Graduate students will receive a one-time grant of $500. Undergraduate students who are not PELL Grant eligible will receive $600, and undergraduate students who are PELL eligible will receive $800. 

TSU students say they appreciate the university’s effort to accommodate them, especially their instructors, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Treveon Hayes of Memphis, Tennessee, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.

“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes, an elementary education major. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”

Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.

“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”

However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Thanks Healthcare Workers On the Frontlines Fighting COVID-19, Highlights National Nurses Week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently showed its appreciation for frontline workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by gifting more than 2,500 potted African Violet plants to healthcare workers at several hospitals, clinics and other facilities in the Nashville metro area.

Each healthcare worker received an African Violet plant with a note thanking them for their effort on the frontline. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Representing TSU President Glenda Glover, the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Dr. Chandra Reddy, led a group of university officials and staff to deliver the plants to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers at Ascension Saint Thomas West, Select Specialty Hospital, Nashville General Hospital, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Clinic, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The act of kindness was in recognition of National Nurses Week, May 6-12.

Each plant, decorated in a see-through shimmering plastic wrap, carried an inscription that said, “Thank you for being on the frontline for all of us.” They were donated through a partnership with Optimara, a horticulture company in Nashville.

“We just want to say thank you to nurses, doctors, medical technicians, and other hospital workers for risking their lives to save COVID-19 patients and the community,” Reddy said, as dozens of nurses, each observing required social distance, lined up at the main entrance at St. Thomas Went to receive a plant.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, talks to the media about TSU’s immense gratitude to the frontline workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“The African violet plant we are gifting is just a symbol of freshness and hope going forward in our fight against this pandemic.”

Samantha Straton, Chief Nursing Officer at Ascension Saint Thomas West, who received the TSU representatives, thanked the university and said the hospital staff was grateful for the gift.

“This is really meaningful for our frontline caregivers who have been working so hard through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it happens to be Nurses Week,” Straton said. “This is a great way to express appreciation for the hard work of all our nurses and frontline caregivers. We really value our relationship with TSU. We often have clinical students here at Ascension Saint Thomas West as well as  some of our other facilities. It is a great partnership and we really just want to say thank you.”

The Director of the BSN program at TSU,  Dr. Pinky Noble-Britton, was among those representing the university. Like Straton, Noble-Britton highlighted the “outstanding” partnership TSU has with medical facilities in Nashville.

Samantha Straton, left, Chief Nursing Officer at Ascension Saint Thomas West, joins Dr. Reddy, and Reinhold Holtkamp, Sr., President of Optimara, to present plants to the staff of the hospital. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“As a nurse and an educator, it’s heartwarming to see the community support, especially for the men and women on the frontlines providing care during this pandemic,” said Noble-Britton, who is also associate professor of nursing.

“We have a great nursing program and want to also thank St. Thomas West and all of the other hospitals and clinics, as well as Optimara for being such focused community partners with us.”

Reinhold Holtkamp, Sr., president of Optimara, said his company and TSU have had a long relationship in many areas.

“We have collaborated together for many years with the College of Agriculture, and they have given us a lot of support,” Holtkamp said. “So, when we had the opportunity to work together on this sign of friendship for our frontline workers together, we immediately ceased that moment.”

TSU is currently accepting applications for the traditional BSN program. For information on the program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nursing/bachelor.aspx

For information on the TSU College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU faculty, students use online classes to continue teaching and learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Treveon Hayes is not letting anything stop him from completing his course work and ultimately getting his college degree – not even the coronavirus. 

Treveon Hayes. (Submitted photo)

The Tennessee State University freshman is among countless students at higher education institutions across the country who have transitioned to online learning as a precaution to contracting COVID-19. 

“It’s been an adjustment, but I have goals, and I can’t let anything stop me from reaching them,” says Hayes, an elementary education major from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Earlier this month, TSU President Glenda Glover and other university administrators held a live meeting via Zoom with over 200 student leaders to assure them that TSU is dedicated to accommodating them while they finish the semester remotely as a result of the virus. 

“We are going to do everything humanly possible to accommodate you to ensure that you succeed in spite of this very daunting challenge,” said Dr. Glover. “It is tough for everyone across the world as we face the daily uncertainties and dangers that this virus presents. We’re going to do whatever we can to ensure that you remain whole.”

TSU students say they appreciate the effort of university faculty and staff, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

Music education major Jakori Hollinger practicing at home. (Submitted photo)

Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Hayes, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.

“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”

Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.

“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”

However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”

On March 16, TSU was the first public university in Tennessee to transition to all online classes as a result of COVID-19.

Dr. Robbie Melton, interim dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at TSU, says prior to the coronavirus the university was exploring several types of online options for students. 

“We were already positioned to transition online when the coronavirus hit, which is why it only took us less than a week for a full transition,” says Melton. “We had the software and the tools and the training. And we had faculty training every day, including weekends, to assist the faculty in this new norm.”

Dr. Cheryl Seay is executive director of TSU’s Global Online and the lead person in helping TSU’s faculty transition to online instruction. She says sessions are held seven days a week via Zoom to address faculty questions or concerns, and she’s pleased with the participation and adjustment. 

Speech pathology grad student Jordan Robinson prepares to use a clinical simulation. (Submitted photo)

“The faculty have really stepped up to the plate,” says Seay. “They are doing everything they can to embrace this. I’m just really proud of our faculty.”

Dr. Tina Smith, chair of TSU’s Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, set up the first distance education program for the state of Tennessee in the area of speech pathology when she came to TSU in 2005. As a result, Smith says her students have had an easier time adjusting to remote learning. The biggest change she’s had to make involves the clinical component. 

“I now use clinical simulation, virtual patients,” says Smith. “Real clients, but online. We’re also using Zoom to do telehealth with our clients. That’s the new frontier for speech pathology.”

Dr. Learotha Williams, an associate professor of history at TSU, says he realizes these are difficult times for everyone, which is why he checks on the well-being of his students at the beginning of each online class. 

“I ask how each of them are doing, and what I can do to assist,” says Williams. “I also ask them to write a journal entry about how the coronavirus is impacting their lives where they live. It allows them to put their feelings on paper. And as a historian, it’s given me a wide gaze of what students are going through during this period.”

Like many students, Dr. Robert Elliott, chair of TSU’s Music Department, says he too misses the face-to-face interaction. He described the challenge of trying to virtually help a student who was playing Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on his bass guitar. 

“I’ve got my instrument (bass guitar) in my living room, and he’s got his instrument in his living room,” says Elliott. “He told me at one point, ‘Doc, I can’t wait until we’re back in your office.’ I said me too.” 

TSU has 23 distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and will offer most of the classes online this summer. Summer sessions are scheduled to begin in late May, early June. To learn more, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aeao/.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Health Sciences Experts Share Advice For Students, People Concerned About Contracting Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The coronavirus has existed for years, causing people to have respiratory infections, essentially colds.  However, Tennessee State University public health experts say the current outbreak is the result of a new strand, and that researchers are quickly trying to develop an antiviral drug.

TSU experts say students and Middle Tennessee residents can take precautionary measures to minimize their chances of contracting the coronavirus.

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, associate professor and interim Masters of Public Health program director at TSU, held an in-depth discussion with students in her Health Conditions In Functions and Disabilities Class about the coronavirus.

“The best protection is to get immunized to what we know. Many people are probably so worried about the coronavirus that they are getting the flu,” she explains.  “When the flu season starts, I always recommend to everyone the flu shot. When your immune system is alert, and it is alerted by the flu shot, other things don’t hit it as hard.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 15 persons in the United States who have tested positive for the COVID-19, the official name given to this new coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan China. An East Tennessee woman recently tested positive for the coronavirus when she and her husband were about to leave quarantine on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan.

Brenda K. Batts

Brenda K. Batts, assistant professor and director of clinical education at TSU, says they should not be fearful because of the effective quarantining of people who have tested positive for the virus. However, she says there are still preventive measures that can be taken.

“Just really be very cautious about people who have coughs and colds and have high temperatures. If you are experiencing that, get checked by your physician, but don’t expose others or yourself,” Batts says. ”Make sure you use lots of hand washing and sanitizing techniques, such as when you go to gas stations, restaurants or whenever you go anywhere in the public. Keep some hand sanitizer with you and clean your hands very well.”

Coronavris symptoms, which can last from 2-14 days, include runny nose, fever, headache, sore throat, feeling unwell, and cough. To prevent the disease, the CDC recommends: washing hands; avoiding touching eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home when sick; covering cough or sneeze with tissue; and cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces.

Robyn Hanna, a senior public health major who works as a patient care technician at St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, says she’s not concerned about contracting the virus at work because of the thorough precautionary measures they are instructed to take.

“As soon as you walk through the doors, there’s a sign, ‘If you have any of these symptoms, here’s a mask. Put it on.’ It’s at every exit and every entrance,” says Hanna, a Mississippi Gulf Coast native.

“Working on the floors we know people that are diagnosed with diseases.  If they are being tested for it, they still get the precautionary items on the door. All the nurses and doctors and techs are vaccinated.  That’s a must at the hospital.”

Fellow students Joseph Racine and Meleah Haley have varying concerns regarding the disease that recently surfaced in China. Racine works as a car maintenance specialist at the Nashville International Airport when not attending classes. The senior occupational therapy major says he has noticed travelers at the airport wearing personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks. Racine says he is not afraid of contracting the virus.

“Most of the time that I am dealing with the rental cars that I touch, I have on gloves.  Most of us wear gloves, but the people who don’t, you just kind of let them know, ‘You might want to put on some gloves,’” says Racine.

Haley, a senior health science major with a minor in public health, says she is concerned about the virus, primarily because of her upcoming travel plans.

“I’ll be taking an airplane. I’ll be going to Miami. Everybody knows that’s a place where a lot of people are,” says Haley, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native who is considering wearing a protective mask while flying.  “I am really concerned about that. I’m even concerned about being in the airport and being on the airplane with all these cases of coronavirus.  I don’t feel threatened at the university.  I don’t necessarily feel threatened in the community, but I am definitely going to be alert.”

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, associate professor and interim Masters of Public Health program director at TSU, discussing coronavirus with students. (TSU News Service, Michael McLendon)

Dr. Inman supports wearing a mask while traveling, she says students and professors should understand that wearing masks to class for protection may create suspicion that they have contracted the virus.

“If you wear a mask, it is just as protective for you as the person wearing the mask to keep you from catching something,” she says. “But, if you are on a college campus and you put one on because you are concerned, everybody thinks you have it.”

Batts says students and employees who feel sick should not attend class or visit campus.

“I do think when students or faculty have colds or fevers, and they are coughing, that they should not be coming to campus.  They should be seen to make sure they don’t have any form of that virus,” she says. “Most of the time people transport any type of respiratory virus to the environment by tabletops, instruments, equipment and labs.”

Walretta H. Chandler, TSU’s Student Health Services nurse, says students experiencing flu-like symptoms should visit the university’s health center located in in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center, Kean Hall, Room 304. Students can also call (615) 963-5291 to schedule an appointment.

Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html to learn more about the coronavirus. For more information on TSU’s College of Health Sciences, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.