University of Louisiana system makes masks optional for the fall semester

By: - June 25, 2021 7:00 am

The University of Louisiana system Board of Regents met for the first in over a year June 24. (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

Masks will be optional this fall for students in colleges in the University of Louisiana system, and unvaccinated students, faculty or staff “will be encouraged to do routine testing.”

UL System colleges are back to offering in-person courses and campus tours, and even held their first in-person Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday.

“The hope and the expectation is that the fall 2021 (semester) will be very similar to the fall 2019 (semester) — the last full normal semester before the all-consuming international crisis occurred,” Jeannine Kahn, UL system provost, said during the meeting.

COVID-19 will not be treated as inconsequential or nonexistent, Kahn said.

“What has been and will remain the number one priority of our institutions is the health, safety and well being of all faculty, staff and students,” Kahn said.

The UL system includes Louisiana Tech, Grambling State, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of New Orleans.

UL System colleges will continue to offer vaccination opportunities on campus. Some campuses are thinking about implementing vaccine incentive programs similar to health department’s $1 million vaccine lottery, “though not at that magnitude,” Kahn said.

UL System colleges will have air filtration devices “to allow for a healthy airflow.” Colleges will also keep hand sanitizer stations available throughout campus and Plexiglas separators in front of lecterns in classrooms.

UL System President Jim Henderson said he asked the Board of Regents to work with the health department in adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of immunizations required for attendance at Louisiana public colleges and universities. LSU’s Board made the same request to the health department last week.

“As much as we remain hopeful for a very normal academic year,” Henderson said, “we have to be cognizant of the unknowns that are still lingering.”

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and 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.