Despite Tuesday’s lifting of the statewide mask mandate, LSU today announced it would continue requiring faculty, staff and students to wear masks.
In a letter addressed to the university community, LSU interim president Tom Galligan and Executive Vice President and Provost Stacia Haynie reinforced the school’s current guidelines regarding mask-wearing, which require masks on campus while indoors and within 6 feet of others outdoors. They point to safety as the primary factor behind their rationale.
“It’s great news that cases of the virus, hospitalizations and deaths are all down considerably,” the letter reads, “and we want to do our part to keep that trend moving in the right direction so we can have an in-person fall semester.”
However, Galligan and Haynie stop short of issuing a systemwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate, as has been called for by faculty members, who convened this week to shed light on the issue. To date, some 380 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. have required vaccinations on their campuses.
But LSU has said that it, as a public university, cannot legally require vaccines because vaccines have only received emergency use approval from the FDA, meaning the Louisiana Department of Health has not required them. Louisiana law states that only vaccinations included in a schedule published by the LDH can be required.
Instead, school leaders “strongly urge” faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated and encourage them to report their vaccinations to LSU so that the university can keep track of progress. Through May 29, the Pfizer vaccine will be available at the south endzone of Tiger Stadium with no appointment necessary, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
LSU’s announcement comes two days after Gov. John Bel Edwards scrapped nearly every coronavirus restriction in Louisiana and lifted the statewide requirement that students must wear a mask in the classroom and at school events. He left it up to school district and university leaders to decide if they wanted to mandate masks for summer school, summer camps and fall classes.