Epidemiologist: Louisiana colleges have rolled back COVID-19 policies ‘far too quickly’

Most universities have lifted indoor mask mandates

By: - March 9, 2022 6:00 pm

The Biden administration has directed the Department of Education to continue the pause on student loan repayments for three more months, until May 1. (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

As Louisiana colleges roll back their COVID-19 safety policies and mask mandates, an epidemiologist warns that higher education institutions are heading back to pre-COVID-19 policies “far too quickly.”

Masking is optional at LSU and most University of Louisiana system schools — with the exception of some universities, including the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Grambling State University and the University of New Orleans — who all still require masks indoors.

Schools in the Southern University System, Xavier University and Dillard University also still require indoor masking, while Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans have recently lifted their indoor mask mandate.

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Some universities, such as Tulane and Dillard, are also conducting surveillance tests, which involves monitoring data at the community level. Other campuses, such as LSU, are testing wastewater for COVID-19 infections from dorms or public areas.

Classes at LSU, UL system schools, Southern schools and Tulane are all back to in-person. At Dillard, some courses are still taught partially online.

Dr. Susan Hassig, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said that even though campuses are moving away from masks, online classes and mandatory testing, they need to be ready for the next COVID-19 surge.

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“Universities need to be ready to pivot,” Hassig said. “They cannot assume that, just because things are better now, it’s going to stay better.”

The coronavirus will inevitably mutate, maybe in a more problematic or less problematic way, and another surge can happen at any given moment, Hassig said.

“We have been through five surges in Louisiana,” she said. “Each time we came off the backside of a surge, everybody talked about the pandemic being over. The pandemic is not over.”

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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.

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