Interim Interview

LSU's Interim President, Tom Galligan sits in his office on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 during an interview at the University Administrations building on LSU's campus.

LSU Interim President Thomas Galligan asked LSU students to get tested for COVID-19 once a month in a campuswide email last week. 

“We would really like to have more robust testing then we have, and more participation in that, so it was a reminder. We have the resources, it’s easy to do, so just please get tested,” Galligan said in an interview with the Reveille. “We also know that if you get tested once in August, we’ve all been through a lot of life since then, so it’s just a good idea to keep track of it and stay on top of it.”

There are 94 positive cases of COVID-19 on campus as of Wednesday, according to LSU’s COVID-19 dashboard. 8,478 tests have been administered on campus so far, with 6.7% of those tests returning positive.

Psychology sophomore Marcus Mills said mandatory testing for all LSU students would be a good idea.

 “I think it’s a brilliant idea for LSU to implement mandatory COVID-19 tests," Mills said. "Making the tests mandatory would provide real time updates of what is happening on campus and would keep everybody informed. The test does not take that long to get, and it's only beneficial.”

Galligan said mandatory testing isn’t a simple solution, but it is something that the University considered, and continues to consider.

“We have, a couple of times we’ve considered making it mandatory, and we continue to consider making it mandatory. We watch our numbers and if our numbers were to stagnate, that would be one reason why we would want to make it mandatory," Galligan said. "If our positivity rate were to shoot up, that would be another reason to make it mandatory. Some SEC schools mandated and now they’re not, others never mandated, so the question of whether to mandate is a balance of privacy and consent versus public health. What do you make someone do versus what do you incentivize someone to do?”

Psychology freshman Hanna LeBlanc said getting as many students tested as possible would allow the University to do a better job of keeping students safe from the virus.

"This would benefit LSU more than anything,” LeBlanc said. “While false positive are always a concern, this would help more people stay safe on campus and eliminate many of the risks for students during this pandemic.”

Galligan said one of the things the University has done is implement waste water testing at residence halls. 

". . . A couple weeks ago we had some high numbers at two of the testing spots, which represents four residence halls, so we mandated testing in those residence halls," Galligan said. "Last week, none of the numbers at the residence halls were over the testing level."

LSU classes have remained mostly online since the switch in the spring semester, and this is something that is likely to continue into the spring semester of this year, according to Galligan.

“It will be a question to faculty and staff choice in many regards, whether faculty want to teach remotely or in the classroom, with students as well, if they want to be in the classroom or if they want to be remote," Galligan said. "We have looked at those things, again, the better our numbers are, the more confident both faculty and students are going to be that we can be safely in the classroom together. So I think we have to keep our numbers down, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a significant number of classes will still have to be online or hybrid because of size, and we are also looking at the calendar and what calendar adjustments we might have to make.”

The University announced last month that students who get tested would receive priority for student tickets for LSU football games, and Galligan said that while the University hasn’t fully discussed the possibility of giving scheduling priority to students who get tested, it is a possibility.

“We’ve barely began to talk about that subject, whether we would do that or could do that,” Galligan said.” So, stay tuned on that front.”

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