LSU entrance/exit

A worker enters the Student Union on Friday, Sept. 5, 2020 on LSU's campus.

LSU Student Government is working on a new initiative to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through foot-operated door openers.

“With thousands of students still attending classes on campus, it is imperative that we take all necessary measures to protect our students who will be on campus,” LSU Student Government said in an announcement. “We would like to propose working with Facility Services to install foot-operated door openers across campus, especially in bathroom doors and high traffic areas.”

Facility Services identified eight campus buildings as high-traffic areas for students, faculty and staff. These buildings include the Student Union, LSU Library, the UREC, Tureaud Hall, Patrick F. Taylor, Coates Hall, Hebert Law Center and the Veterinary Medicine building.

Executive Director of Facility & Property Tammy Millican said LSU Campus Sustainability and SG worked together to address the possibility of implementing hands-free door openers.

“We were approached in July by Student Government,” Millican said. “The idea was to be able to use your foot instead of your hands and if we can provide this option, it will prevent so many people from touching the door handles and will help us health-wise against the pandemic.”

SG’s plan allowed Facility Services to take the first steps in equipping campus with the pandemic-friendly door openers. Millican said the LSU Planning, Design and Construction crew began work on finding models that will best suit University doors.

“We began to look at the types of foot-operated door openers that are out there and we found some,” Millican said. “The next point was making sure that these were going to work with everyone on campus.”

Though implementing hands-free hardware around campus appears like a feasible solution to fighting the spread of COVID-19, University Campus Sustainability acknowledged the design could administer future problems concerning disability services. Millican said “addressing one issue and then causing others” is being avoided regarding accessibility to all students.

“I reached out to Disability Services to see how these door handles work for people who have mobility issues, low vision, etc., to see how effective they were and there are some concerns,” Millican said. “For one, they can be a tripping hazard. If someone has low vision or if they are blind, it can cause a tripping issue. The other concern is for students, faculty and staff who are in wheelchairs because the chair can be caught as they’re trying to move through the door.”

At this time, Facility Services and Disability Services are working together to see if foot-operated door handles are a viable option for all students while looking at different hardware that will best suit University needs. Millican said they’re “staying in contact with Student Government” to keep them updated on where they are in the process.

“We thought it was an excellent idea and we’re excited that Student Government is reaching out and making these types of suggestions to us,” Millican said. “We’re doing our best to investigate and make sure it’s going to work for everybody on campus.”

Though the doors' installation doesn’t have a set timeline and is still in the early stages of the planning process, Facility Services and SG hope to ensure student safety and accessibility in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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