By William Patrick | The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Louisiana State University (LSU) has issued new COVID-19 protocols for the school’s upcoming spring semester, encompassing in-person learning, vaccines and masks.
LSU is the state’s largest university per student population. The new rules will affect an estimated 36,000 students, as well as faculty and staff, and build on last year’s self-imposed vaccine mandate, LSU President William Tate said.
“In consultation with our faculty Health and Medical Advisory Committee, and looking carefully at the nationwide surge of the Omicron variant, we are building on our successful approach from the fall and providing you with our protocols for the spring 2022 semester,” Tate said.
Instructors with courses listed in the spring catalog will have the option to teach remotely for the first two weeks of classes, the protocols read. In-class teaching will only be required after the two-week period if the “community and campus” COVID-19 positivity rates are below 10%.
Masks will be required both indoors and within 50 feet of school building entrances, the protocols state. Masks are also mandatory at campus events and on campus buses.
“Cloth masks are acceptable but K-N95 and N95 masks offer the best protection to the wearer and are encouraged. Masks should completely cover the nose and mouth,” a statement said.
The school’s vaccine mandate will also remain in place despite being one of the strictest COVID-19 university policies in the Southeast.
“Our student vaccination rate of over 84 percent represents the best in the state for public universities and is among the highest vaccination percentages in the SEC (Southeastern Conference),” Tate said.
Unvaccinated students, faculty and staff will be required to comply with existing testing rules.
“Each week, 25 percent of all unvaccinated students will be tested using a stratified approach to ensure each week’s sample is generalizable to the student population based on living arrangement (i.e., on-campus or off-campus) and other factors,” the protocols said.
Students living in on-campus housing – such as residence halls, apartments and Greek Houses – must show proof of a negative test before returning for the spring semester regardless of vaccination status. The administration said it will also monitor “wastewater.”
“COVID testing will be required for all students in residence halls, campus apartments and Greek Houses whose wastewater shows a substantial spike in virus,” the protocols state.
Students who do not comply with the spring semester COVID-19 rules will be administratively withdrawn from classes. Employees who are not fully vaccinated and do not comply with testing regimens may be subject to disciplinary action, LSU’s website said.
All students, faculty and staff are further required to participate in the school’s “Daily Symptom Checker,” a daily monitoring and contact-tracing application.
“The daily symptom checker requires respondents to take a one- to two-minute assessment of their symptoms. Once respondents have provided information about their symptoms, they will be provided with feedback. The QR code from the daily symptom checker will be used for entrance into high traffic areas on campus,” the school states.