Buggy whips were a good investment 150 years ago. Therefore, they would be a good investment today. No. This is an error. The world has changed.
LSU appears to similarly err in their rationale for their proposed COVID-19 mitigation measures for fall 2021.
Part of that rationale is that the recommended measures should work this year because similar measures worked last year. However, this year's campus environment will differ radically from last year's.
Last year, few students were on campus because few LSU courses were taught in person. (Anyone who was around last year knows: It was a ghost campus.) This year, LSU faculty are scheduled to teach in person at full classroom capacity.
Mitigation measures that worked last year when very few people were on campus are unlikely to work on a full campus, with classrooms at full capacity. Indeed, the mitigation measures probably worked so well last year because so few people were on campus.
Last year, There was no delta variant. This year, the delta variant is already dominant in Louisiana.
This variant is much more transmissible than earlier variants. Average time to infection for previous variants is 15 minutes, compared to as little as 5 to 10 seconds for the delta variant.
Using the mitigation measures from last year against the delta variant is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
There is no good reason to expect that last year's mitigation measures will work in this year's campus environment. The world has changed.
Avoiding catastrophe in our classrooms and homes, without an overwhelmingly vaccinated campus population, requires allowing LSU faculty discretion in how to deliver their courses, including fully remotely. And COVID-19 vaccinations must be mandated without delay.
associate professor of philosophy, LSU