Things could look very different when LSU's fall semester begins, with mandatory face masks in lectures, random coronavirus testing and limited capacity in classrooms and buildings. 

Students are still on summer break; fall semester classes are slated to begin Aug. 24.

In a presentation Friday to the school’s Board of Supervisors, interim president Tom Galligan outlined what a return to campus amid a pandemic could look like.

Though he prefaced with a disclaimer that plans are subject to change based on the evolving situation, students could attend classes formatted as in-person, remote online or a hybrid of both. All classes and lectures will be livestreamed or recorded, but for those students attending in-person classes face masks and social distancing will be required.

Classroom occupancy will be restricted to 50%. Common spaces like the library, union and bookstore will also see altered operations and limited capacity.

The school is intending to randomly test 10% to 16% of students and faculty who are encouraged to participate, though it won’t be mandatory, and the school will implement its own contact tracing platform.

LSU has been in Phase 2 of reopening since June 8, and was soon expected to move to Phase 3, which would allow more faculty and staff on campus and limited reopenings of the student union, library and dining halls. But, after Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that Louisiana would not move into Phase 3 reopening due to a rise in coronavirus cases, university officials announced they also were delaying their move to Phase 3.

On Tuesday, the state saw more than 1,300 new confirmed cases.

The school announced the change of plans in a letter to faculty and staff Monday.

“We still remain hopeful that we can begin our fall semester on schedule, but frankly for that to happen every one of us will need to take the precautions seriously and ensure that those around us do as well,” the statement reads.

The statement also references “surges” of coronavirus cases in areas surrounding campus.

State health officials last week confirmed a coronavirus outbreak in bars in the Tigerland area near campus that led to several signature restaurants and bars closing as workers tested positive.

The health department recommended anyone who visited those establishments recently to self-quarantine.

Officials said there had been more than 100 patrons and bar employees testing positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

JL’s Place, Reggie’s and The Chimes on Highland Road were among those to close, and Fred’s in Tigerland announced it would host a coronavirus testing site Thursday for students and staff who work at nearby bars.

LSU’s Emergency Operations Center staff are still working through the logistics of reopening, so it's not certain yet what exactly fall classes and activities may look like.

Galligan said Friday in his board presentation that some events may need to be altered or postponed, and additional custodial staff would be hired to provide two full cleanings of residence hall bathrooms and common spaces each day.

Beyond that, many elements of the fall semester are still subject to change.


Email Emma Kennedy at ekennedy@theadvocate.com.