Colleges explore innovative ways to reopen safely

From installing plexiglass shields in classrooms to appointing Community Health Advocates

By: - August 17, 2020 9:46 pm

As colleges and universities reopen for the fall semester, campus officials are implementing innovative ways to make sure students and faculty return safely. Some of those changes will be noticed as soon as students and their loved ones arrive. LSU and Loyola University New Orleans are two examples of colleges that are increasing the number of days they give students to move into their dormitories.

But added days doesn’t mean that students can take their time getting unpacked and settled in. To the contrary:  “You can only be on-campus for two hours,” LSU President Tom Galligan, told the LSU Board of Supervisors when he was describing the university’s new procedures for move-in day. “The whole extended family can’t come to say goodbye,” Galligan said at that Aug. 14 meeting. “They can text you or Zoom you.”

When the academic year begins, LSU students will  plexiglass shields installed in every classroom, Galligan said.  He also said the university will also install signs on staircases and in doorways, so that, for example, some staircases will be used for students going up and others for them going down.

At an Aug. 13 meeting of the Louisiana Board of Regents, Kim Reed, Louisiana’s  commissioner of higher education, said the state’s universities are being advised to assign students to single dorm rooms and requiring those campuses with dorms to establish quarantine and isolation rooms.

“There is a look of good work and hard work happening,” Reed said about preparations on the state’s campuses.  The commissioner praised Reed uses Nunez Community College in Chalmette as an example of that hard work, specifically the “The Pelican Pledge” students and others on the campus will be asked to make to “protect each other and protect themselves.” 

Next door in New Orleans, Xavier University is asking their student leaders to help their peers maintain health and safety protocols. The university will designate Community Health Advocates who will encourage their peers to stay informed and stay safe.

All the universities appear to be counting more on voluntary compliance than enforcement. Galligan said the way members of the LSU community conduct themselves “will have a huge impact on how the fall semester unfolds, and it’s vital they adhere to all university, local, state and CDC guidelines.”

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is a former Louisiana Illuminator reporter. Prior to working with the Illuminator, Canicosa worked for Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon. Canicosa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.