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Events have continued to unfold at a rapid pace related to the national emergency response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Public and private institutions are on the frontlines helping the nation flatten the infection curve to keep cases from overwhelming our healthcare system’s capacity to assist those most at risk, including seniors and those with underlying chronic health conditions.
In consultation with our senior leadership and other institutions, Southern College of Optometry has decided to prioritize public health safety. As noted in previous communications, while no COVID-19 cases have been reported at SCO, the increasing number of infections poses serious risks to students, employees, and others in clinical settings.
Taking into consideration the public health risks to clinical eyecare delivery, we have a number of critical updates to communicate:
By working together, we hope to do our part to help minimize the spread of this infectious pandemic. As soon as we’re able to resume in a safe manner, SCO will do so. We understand the concern students will feel about their academic progress. Please know that the college will continue working with ACOE and others in our field for best practice recommendations.
Please monitor your email, the college’s website, and social media for additional updates. As stressful as this unprecedented situation may seem, we are mindful that there are thousands of infected patients across the nation and many more around the globe. As educators and healthcare providers, society looks to institutions like SCO for trust when it comes to patient care safety.
Individual questions are welcomed as this situation unfolds. SCO appreciates your continued commitment to the high standards that have made the college a leader in optometric education and the region’s leading eyecare provider. SCO was founded during the Great Depression and survived WWII when most of our students were called away to service. With your cooperation, we can work together through this latest challenge and emerge stronger when this crisis passes.
Lewis Reich, O.D., Ph.D.
Southern College of Optometry
You may have heard that many colleges are universities are moving to a distance-learning format. By the very nature of an optometry college’s mission, this option is more challenging in part because of the labs and clinical learning experiences required for our students to demonstrate mastery of clinical skills as required for their license to practice optometry.
Social distancing is being encouraged by the CDC. This particularly applies to college students because they gather in large groups at one time. In SCO’s case, we have 130+ students sitting in close proximity to each other for an extended period of time. We have explored ways to increase social distancing for our students.
We’re communicating to our students that we continue to test online lecture capabilities for our students. The first-year class test was successful. The second-year class is being tested this afternoon. Tomorrow, we are testing our third-year class capabilities.
If these video lecture tests continue to be successful, we intend to implement a plan to give students the option to watch lectures by video from home through March 28. Midterms would continue as planned the week after next. We will continue to evaluate and monitor our options through this March 28 date.
During midterm week, students will be encouraged to spread out in the lecture hall for social distancing. We have also encouraged all students to practice social distancing outside the college.
Labs and clinic assignments are still unchanged but we will continue to monitor the situation for both. Lab groups are much smaller and we are able to control the sanitation in those environments. We cannot replicate those technical skill assessments in a virtual format.
Students are being encouraged to continue practicing good health and hygiene measures for cleanliness. This practice must be embraced by faculty and staff as well.
To the entire campus:
At this time, we are not aware of anyone in the SCO community having reported exposure to COVID-19. We remain vigilant, with particular care being taken in terms of preventive measures as outlined above.
We will continue to provide additional updates as the situation warrants. We recognize this is a fluid crisis, so please be continue to monitor your email, local, state, and national news reports.
These two resources have been recommended by the government for helping keep us all informed:
Thanks again to each of you for helping keep each other and our campus safe.
At Southern College of Optometry, the health and safety of our patients and campus community is a critical priority. With the national coronavirus (COVID-19) cases reported in Tennessee and other states, we will continue to monitor the outbreak. Based on recommendations of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other appropriate health agencies, we are working to keep our campus clean and safe.
With prevention being the best protection against the coronavirus and other infectious diseases, we are encouraging patients to reschedule appointments if they are ill (coughing, sneezing, fever, shortness of breath, or other serious symptoms). Frequent handwashing is crucially important. Signage has also been placed in our clinics to reinforce this message and to encourage handwashing.
If you have additional questions or concerns about this outbreak, we encourage you to monitor updates from the local health authorities and the CDC. Thank you for working with us to keep us all safe and healthy.
New Ambassadors: (L-R):
Congratulations to SCO's newest Student Ambassadors!
Southern College of Optometry recently hosted its eleventh annual State Day event that brought 20+ representatives to campus from state and national optometry associations. The event was designed to promote the importance of organized optometry to SCO’s optometry students.
During the first day of the 2-day event, students were treated to an evening reception with state representatives and state club dinners.
During the second day, students attended a State Day Presentation about “A moderated discussion of burning optometric issues,” which was moderated by James Venable, O.D. ’89. Panelists including AOA Trustee Ron Benner, O.D., Kentucky Optometric Association representative Dinah Bevington, J.D., Colorado Optometric Association representative Katie Brown Bond, O.D., ’16, and Pennsylvania Optometric Association representative Erick Henderson, O.D., ’17 participated in the question and answer sessions with students. The panel allowed students to interact and learn more about the state of optometry and the need for students to get involved early in networking and becoming engaged with the AOA and their state associations.
An evening event allowed students to students to participate in a tradeshow where State associations were allocated booths to provide information and meet one on one with students. A number of student clubs joined representatives from their home states at dinner to conclude the evening.
In addition to the AOA, representatives were in attendance from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.