Hailey Auglair | LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–Louisiana State University officials announced Monday that their campuses will reopen with new safety protocols during Phase 2 of the governor’s order to restore activities after the shutdown for the coronavirus.
LSU is looking toward welcoming students back to campus in the fall on schedule. However, the school is exploring the option of holding the remaining classes after Thanksgiving break online to prevent the spread of the coronavirus since many students and faculty members will have traveled for the holiday.
“We are planning for all facilities and buildings to be open and accessible to our students, faculty, and staff, but, as noted, we will continue to strive to protect the health and safety of the LSU community,” Tom Galligan, LSU’s interim president, wrote in an email. “This means that things may look a little different on campus, but that’s okay. Together, we will navigate the challenges that COVID-19 present to us, and we will adjust our policies and protocols as needed.”
LSU is requiring everyone to wear face masks. The university also plans to randomly test between 10% and 16% of the people on all LSU-system campuses statewide for the coronavirus.
Officials said they plan for everyone on the campuses to practice social distancing when able, and they will increase cleaning protocols.
While LSU is planning to require face masks, Republicans in the state Senate raised questions about a proposed resolution Monday asking the governor to issue an executive order that all citizens wear face masks in public. In the end, the resolution was changed to ask the governor to require people to wear face masks while visiting businesses.
The regular legislative session ended Monday before the Senate could take up another issue important to LSU and other schools in the state–a bill that would let them continue for three years to set the levels of their mandatory undergraduate student fees.
The House had passed the bill, and now the Senate will presumably take it up in a special session that started tonight and could last through the end of June.
Under the House bill, institutions must report any changes in fees to the Legislature and explain why they decided to adjust them.
Universities have raised fees substantially in recent years to offset cuts in state appropriations, and a law allowing them to set the fee levels was due to expire this year.
Many students and their families have been upset about the steadily rising fees. But with the state facing a budget hole of at least $1 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities are bracing for more cuts in state appropriations. The extension would provide them with leeway to raise fees if they cannot otherwise make up the shortfalls.
Galligan said the university gets most of its funds from tuition and fees and only 25% from taxpayers. LSU officials have said that 75% to 80% of the school’s budget came from state appropriations a decade ago.
Undergraduate student tuition and fees at LSU are estimated to be $11,962 for Louisiana residents and $28,639 for non-residents for the 2020-21 academic year, according to the university’s website.
For a full-time undergraduate student at LSU, fees alone cost $1,958 for a Louisiana resident and $10,300 for a non-resident. LSU charges each undergraduate a dedicated fee, an academic excellence fee, a technology fee, a building use fee, an operational fee and a student excellence fee.