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Same Campus but New Campus Life

Welcome, LSU Law Students, to the Fall 2020 semester!

#MaskUpLSU The COVID-19 pandemic comes with many new challenges, and with those challenges come new responsibilities. This Q&A introduces you to many new requirements, protocols, and advisories which we have put in place to help limit transmission of the virus.

This Q&A should also serve to remind you that much of what you read here may change in the coming weeks, as both the pandemic and our knowledge of the virus evolve. We are working tirelessly to create an environment for a safe and rewarding educational experience for you, and we will continue to provide our LSU Law community with the most up-to-date information.

Please also refer to the LSU Roadmap to Fall website to learn more about what campus life will be like in the fall of 2020.

 


Questions and Answers

Will I be required to wear a mask?

Students, faculty, and staff, as well as all visitors, are required to wear a face covering (a “mask”) at all times, in any public area of the LSU Law Center or LSU campus. That is the policy of the LSU Law Center. This small measure will assist all of us in remaining safer by slowing the spread of COVID-19, which will make it more likely that we can remain in our classes in the building this year. The LSU President recently issued a Presidential Directive on this point. Presidential Directives apply to the Law Center as much as to any other part of the LSU A&M campus. In addition, as chief officer of the Law Center, Dean Lockridge has made it the policy of the Law Center to implement fully the use of face coverings in all public spaces in the Law Center.

Will the Law Center provide a mask or will I need to bring my own?

Everyone at the University will be expected to provide their own face coverings—each student will receive one from us, as will each staff and faculty member. We will have a limited number of disposable masks on hand for visitors to the building.

According to current guidelines, homemade DIY face masks can be adequate, but please see here for guidance:
LSU Making a Face Covering Flyer, CDC How to Make Masks

How will physical distancing take place in the LSU Law Center building?

To comply with physical distancing guidelines, all classrooms as well as common spaces will have reduced occupancy. This is why some classes were moved to distance format, the “large” first-year in-person courses were split into A & B groups, and more. No more than 50 students will be in any one classroom. In addition, the furniture in the lounge has been rearranged, and the library has instituted different seating protocols as well as traffic flows and has installed plexiglass barriers in some areas. Some furniture has been removed from hallways and other public spaces.  In sum, physical distancing will be observed in a variety of ways; in addition, as noted in another answer above, students, faculty, and staff, will wear a face covering over the nose, mouth, and chin.

Is there a daily check-in or symptom-checking requirement?

Yes. Starting August 24, the first day of classes for the main campus, all of us—faculty, staff, and students—will use the TIGER Check COVID-19 Monitoring System to help slow the spread and protect the campus community from this virus. The LSU community will be required to self-monitor their symptoms daily, and faculty, staff, and students will be required to respond to a daily symptom check request that will be sent via text message or can be accessed through a web-based application. The daily symptom checker requires respondents to take a one- to two-minute assessment of their symptoms. Once respondents have provided information about their symptoms, they will be provided with feedback.

Get more details about the TIGER Check COVID-19 Monitoring System.

What do I do if I test positive or am exposed to someone with COVID-19?

LSU has published a COVID-19 Protocol Based on Testing, Reported Symptoms, and/or Exposure. IF you test positive or are in close contact with someone with COVID-19 you should not come to campus again until you have been in isolation or quarantine (as applicable) as directed in that protocol.

If test positive, you should do two things. You should contact the Law Center through Associate Dean Andi Carroll (acarro6@lsu.edu) so we can assist in contact tracing by using the seating charts for your courses and so we can check on you while you recover. The Law Center will not disclose your identity to any other student at the Law Center but will instead only notify close contacts by using the seating charts for your classes, so those persons can quarantine themselves. We also cannot engage in any additional cleaning, if any is in fact needed, if we are not notified through Associate Dean Carroll.

And if you test positive OR you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you are required to notify LSU.

Until August 24, when the TIGER Check COVID-19 Monitoring System becomes available, faculty, staff, and students are REQUIRED to notify the LSU EOC should they have a positive COVID-19 test or be diagnosed with COVID-19 by emailing reportcovid@lsu.edu. If you don’t have access to email, please call the LSU EOC at 225-578-7921 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily to report a positive case or exposure.  Faculty, staff, and students are also REQUIRED to notify LSU EOC if they have been in “close contact” with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days (see “Close Contacts of COVID-19 Positive Cases” at linked page). You will be able to report a positive test result through the TIGER Check COVID-19 Monitoring System once it is operational.

In all cases, contact tracing protocols will be enacted to identify those who may have been in contact with the individual, knowingly or unknowingly, so that those individuals can quarantine and take measures to help mitigate the spread.

Definition of Close Contact: CDC defines “close contact” as:

Individual who has had close contact (<6 feet) for ≥ 15 minutes with some one that meets the following criteria:

  • Person with COVID-19 who has symptoms (in the period from two days before symptom onset until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation; can be laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness)
  • Person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (laboratory-confirmed) but has not had any symptoms (in the two days before the date of specimen collection until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation).

Do I really need to disclose my positive COVID-19 test? I consider that private information.

Yes, you do. This is part of what must happen for this community to continue to operate. The information will not be further disclosed to others.

Review the campus guidance, which explains what individuals on campus are required to do if they test positive—whether faculty, staff, or students. We are, of course, limited in how we can manage public health and safety by individual cooperation with our policies—meaning if a student does not disclose a positive test, we will not know and cannot react. Your classmates, your faculty, and all of the staff are relying on each of you to disclose a positive diagnosis if it occurs. We will check on you thereafter if you consent to that. Your classes will be available to you remotely while you feel well enough to attend them; they will be recorded for you to watch later if you are not up to it for a time.

Do I need to quarantine if someone identifies me as a close contact but I feel well?
What if I go get a negative COVID-19 test?

Yes, you need to quarantine. And this is true even with a negative COVID-19 test. Tests are not necessarily accurate soon after exposure. And if you have been exposed, the goal is to protect the rest of the community. Others in the Law Center community will be doing the same to protect you at other points during the semester. This is what we are doing as a community to protect one another.

What about this “close contact” concept? Who is my close contact at the Law Center?
Is my professor my close contact? Is my entire class my close contact?

In general, “close contact” requires being within 6 feet of someone (which includes being in the same car, for example). And in most cases, it requires that distance be maintained for more than 15 minutes—although it also includes direct or near-direct contact (hugging, kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, and being directly sneezed/coughed on with droplets making contact with you).

Persons sitting next directly next to you in any in-person class—in any direction—will be your close contacts here at the Law Center (immediately neighboring you in any direction). In many classes there is more than 6-foot spacing at some angles, but at a few angles the spacing is 5 feet. As a result, we advise the use of “immediately neighboring you in any direction” to be certain all potentially affected persons are notified. But persons sitting “one apart” from you will not be your “close contacts.” Those persons would be 10 feet or more from you.

You should contact the Law Center through Associate Dean Carroll (acarro6@lsu.edu) if you have a positive COVID-19 test so we can assist in contact tracing, particularly by use of class seating charts. There are multiple people in the LSU campus database system with similar names, so solely relying on the automated system may not be the only good way for this to occur. We at the Law Center can then assist with accurate, rapid contact tracing. The Law Center will not disclose your identity to any other student at the Law Center but will instead only work with EOC to notify close contacts by using the seating charts for your classes, so those persons can quarantine themselves.

During the required process of disclosing a positive diagnosis to LSU through the automated system, “close contacts” are also requested—the persons to be identified through this process should only be persons associated with LSU, not family members or friends unaffiliated with LSU. LSU will not be notifying non-LSU community members for whom it has no contact information. More information is here: https://lsu.edu/roadmap/health/symptoms.php.

Please be accurate about your close contacts. You should not over-identify or under-identify your close contacts. Do not name someone if you know you were not really in “close contact” with the person under CDC guidelines—explained at the link above. Identifying a person as a close contact results in the person’s being required to quarantine and not come to campus for 14 days. Accurate identification is essential for protecting campus safety, if the person was indeed a close contact—but it can be damaging for that person’s productivity as student, staff, or faculty if the identification is inaccurate.

What will happen if another student tests positive for COVID-19?

What will happen will depend on what the Law Center learns. If the student notifies LSU as required—which of course we hope everyone would do—then close contacts of the student will learn of their potential exposure, and they will be directed to quarantine for 14 days. This will protect others at the Law Center from further exposure in future days. If the student does not formally notify LSU of the positive test, however, then we will be unable to engage in appropriate contact tracing for the protection of the community.

If you are the student who tests positive, remember that you should contact the Law Center through Associate Dean Andi Carroll (acarro6@lsu.edu) if you have a positive COVID-19 test so we can assist in contact tracing by using the seating charts for your courses and can check on you while you recover. The Law Center will not disclose your identity to any other student at the Law Center but will instead only notify close contacts by using the seating charts for your classes, so those persons can quarantine themselves. We also cannot engage in any additional cleaning, if any is needed, if we are not notified through Associate Dean Carroll.

The Law Center’s custodial/cleaning contractor is cleaning the classrooms and public spaces (library, student lounge) every night that we are open. The pattern alternates for the best coverage: desk and other high-touch surfaces will be wiped one night, and a disinfecting room fogging process used the next night. Right now there is significant time lag for COVID-19 test results. Depending on the date of the positive test and the last day the student was in a classroom or other similar space, the room might be closed for additional cleaning, or it might not be—since it might have been cleaned multiple times already since the student was last in the room.

What will happen if there is a significant outbreak of COVID-19 at the Law Center?

Although LSU is implementing a broad range of health and safety measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the campus community, it is impossible to guarantee that there will not be an increase in the infection rate. For that reason, we might at some point have to modify our current plans, whether for a significant outbreak or in the event that new federal, state, or local regulations require us to modify our plans.  It is possible that a single first-year half section, for example, could be placed in a remote format for a two-week quarantine period if it alone shows an outbreak while others are unaffected.  Barring a significant and widespread outbreak, the testing and contact tracing protocols that are being implemented to help mitigate the spread of the virus will be enacted as planned.

What level of compliance with health and safety protocols, including face coverings, is required?

We rely on everyone who returns to campus to follow all protocols at all times. The plans we have put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community rely on all members of our community complying with the practices we are implementing.

What happens if I do not wear a mask to an in-person class?
What happens if a classmate does not wear a mask to class?

If a student does not wear a mask to class, the faculty member will dismiss the student from class to return to the student’s car to retrieve a mask.  In some cases, the faculty member may be able to refer the student to a location in the building where a disposable mask is available. The LSU Law faculty also recently revised the Code of Student Professional Responsibility. In addition to the fact that “student misconduct” is not limited by the enumerated items, a new item “p.” has been added to create a clear violation of the Code for “Knowingly and intentionally failing or refusing to comply with any LSU Law Center policy relating to the public health of students, faculty, or employees of the LSU Law Center.”

What steps are being taken to ensure that faculty and staff do not transmit COVID-19?

As noted in another FAQ, all faculty and staff will be engaging in the same daily self-screening measures as students, and they are subject to the same general public health measures as students.  In addition, for the protection of all in our community, LSU and the Law Center have enhanced cleaning protocols in the classrooms and other public spaces, including high-touch surfaces such as door handles and rails.  Classrooms, the library study spaces, and the student lounge, will be stocked with individual sanitizing wipes for students to use on desk & table surfaces and chair arms before and after use, and hand sanitizer will also be readily available.

Does the LSU Student Health Center provide services to Law Center students?

The Student Health Center is available to all full-time Law students.  This is part of the student health fee you have paid.

Website: lsu.edu/shc

Service Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Medical Clinic Phone: 225-578-6716

Is treatment for COVID-19 covered by insurance?

The LSU Student Health Center may have testing options available in certain circumstances. Students are encouraged to contact the Center to inquire about testing and to obtain an explanation of the costs. The Center is also keeping an updated list of COVID-19 testing options in the Baton Rouge area in the event that a student needs a referral.

What else can I do to assist with physical distancing and safety at the Law Center?

Remember that although we have only one entrance that is open—the East Plaza sliding doors—all the exit doors are open at all times. Please feel free to exit out the nearest door after your classes are over for the morning or the afternoon—no need to traverse the building to exit the sliding doors.

Will my tuition or fees be reduced as a result of online/distance or remote classes?

No. We are committed to providing the same high-quality education you chose when you selected the LSU Law Center for your education, and you still have the high-quality faculty you would have had if 100% of your courses had been able to be in-person courses. In addition, whether this is your first, second, or third year with us—the degree toward which you are working remains that of the state’s flagship Law Center. We do not sacrifice quality because of the pandemic.

Tuition and fees were announced and fee bills posted and paid with knowledge of the Law Center’s plans for Fall 2020, as well as with knowledge of the uncertain situation in which we all find ourselves due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The costs of a legal education are primarily human-resource costs; those costs that are not fixed are growing with increased technology use or with the need for additional measures to provide for the safer use of the library and other public spaces, including to provide the limited number of in-person courses we can provide with lowered occupancy levels in place due to COVID-19. While our costs have been rising in recent years, including due to the pandemic, we have—knowing that costs are important to our students—worked hard to keep our tuition low. In fact, the tuition at the LSU Law Center has remained the same for the past six years.

Even though some of you may have a schedule with many distance courses this fall—and some of you may even have elected a fully remote curriculum—we will still maintain support services for you, including research assistance in the library, career services support, academic advising for 2Ls and 3Ls upon time for registration, student affairs, our advocacy programs, faculty in-person and online office hours, and much more. We also will still maintain the buildings and facilities, and will still pay the faculty who are delivering instruction and the employees who are providing all of these services to you. Your tuition and fees make this possible.

Over the spring and summer, we received a few questions from our out-of-state students about the nonresident fee, and we want to take this opportunity to explain why that fee is applied to students who do not reside in Louisiana. Since LSU Law is partially funded by the state of Louisiana and its residents through a variety of taxes, Louisiana residents pay a lower cost because they (and possibly their families before them) are also supporting the university through tax dollars. The nonresident fee is assessed in lieu of that tax support contributed by state residents and is unrelated to whether a course is delivered in-person or online. So, while you might be taking distance education courses, you are still earning course credit from LSU Law and working toward an LSU degree. Therefore, the nonresident fee still applies to students who do not reside in Louisiana—regardless of the mode of delivery. And while the following may be cold comfort to those of you paying the current nonresident fee, the Law Center worked diligently with the necessary constituencies governing our tuition and fee structure to give us the ability to phase in a somewhat lower nonresident fee in recent years, which we did over a three-year period beginning in Fall 2016.

We realize that costs are an important issue to everyone—especially right now when all of us are feeling the effects of the pandemic. We continue to pledge to do everything we can to keep our costs down and our quality high.

For information on financial aid, visit: https://www.lsu.edu/financialaid/index.php.