Responding to the challenge

LSU-S expands remote learning, services

Louisiana State University Shreveport has made several operational changes in the wake of statewide efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. Like other campuses in the LSU system, LSUS is preparing for students to return to their classes after spring break on March 30th. However, due to the need for social distancing and the Stay at Home order by the Governor, all face-to-face classes will be taught via remote learning for the rest of the spring semester. 

“We understand that this presents challenges for not only our students, but also our faculty and staff,” said Dr. Helen Taylor, Provost of LSUS. “But we are committed to following the CDC and State guidance on social distancing. Therefore, we’ve given all of our faculty the mandate that they give our students the best possible chance for learning and course completion for the rest of the spring semester.”

Deans, chairs, and faculty have spent the last week and a half developing ways to move their classes into a remote learning environment. Classes and assignments will be provided through a variety of methods, including Moodle, Zoom teleconferencing, and email. “This is an unprecedented time, and while this is not what students signed up for at the beginning of the semester, it’s a challenge that colleges and universities all over the world are having to deal with,” said Wendell Riley, Director of Media and External Relations. “We’ve had tremendous success in developing cutting-edge online programs over the years. The goal now is to convert our face-to-face classes into a remote learning format in a very short space of time.”

The university also recognizes the additional burden this shift places on some of its students, particularly those who rely on campus resources such as labs and library access to navigate their courses. “Some of our students don’t have access to home computers or reliable internet access, so we are keeping a campus computer lab open for students, with protocols in place to maintain social distancing,” said Dr. Taylor. “This is very important for our students who would not otherwise have access to online course materials, resources, or course-specific software.”

The university understands that student support goes well beyond academics in the coming months. The administration has gone to great lengths to identify and address the needs of students with disabilities during this time. It is also keeping its Food Pantry open two days a week and is offering remote versions of key student support services such as counseling, career services, social interaction activities and advising. 

Of course, the end of the semester represents just a single point on a longer academic journey for students. While the university has canceled the spring graduation ceremony, students who meet graduation requirements will still receive their diplomas on time, and new dates in late summer are being considered for a rescheduled ceremony. Registration for summer classes begins on April 13th, so students should begin reaching out to their advisors soon. The Admissions department is also offering online class registration for all new students starting college in fall 2020. These will be personalized one-on-one online registration appointments. Information can be found at www.lsus.edu/orientation, or students who have questions about existing applications or the registration process can contact admissions@lsus.edu.

“We are reaching out to all of our students to let them know that we hear and understand their concerns and challenges in this uncertain time,” said Riley. “Students should be checking their email frequently as the situation continues to evolve, and they should connect with their professors and instructors as soon as possible. We want their feedback, and we want to help them succeed in any way we can.”