LSU Division of Strategic Communications sent a broadcast email around 1:50 p.m. on March 11 that addressed the LSU community's concern over coronavirus. The message was also posted on the LSU coronavirus update page, accessible here.
The email confirmed there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at the University as of March 11. It also addressed concerns surrounding Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor John Scalzo's potential exposure to the virus.
On March 10, Scalzo sent an email to students claiming a supplemental instructor for one of his classes was being tested for coronavirus. Scalzo wrote that he has a doctor’s note stating he can be on campus, but he would “leave campus immediately” if the supplemental instructor’s test is positive. According to the email, Scalzo “[has] a few symptoms,” but can’t be tested until it’s confirmed that he came into contact with someone who tested positive.
"We know of at least one person who has expressed concern about exposure to the virus, and that has led to much public speculation," the email said. "After investigation, it was determined that the individual in question is asymptomatic and not within the threat parameters set by the Centers for Disease Control and the Louisiana Office of Public Health. As of this time, there is no reason to believe anyone at LSU is clinically affected."
Strategic Communications encouraged the campus community to be "cautious of rumors and speculation on social media or in other sources where factual information is not provided."
Those with legitimate concerns about exposure to the virus should contact their health provider; students may also contact the Student Health Center. Strategic Communications pledged to immediately inform students, faculty and staff if there are any confirmed cases at the University.
The University is now considering a transition to online classes, as several other universities around the country have done, but has not yet made the decision to begin the transition.
"Last week, [LSU] asked faculty members to prepare for the possibility of moving to an online format," the email said. "At this time, with no confirmed cases at LSU, we are not yet opting to close or move entirely to online classes. The goal is to complete the spring semester, whether in person or online, so that all students get full credit for the semester and can matriculate or graduate without delay."
The University is considering closing the campus after spring break and will announce any decision that is made as soon as possible, the email said.
Most University events will still proceed as scheduled, including award ceremonies, commencement and summer classes, because there are currently no cases at the University. Strategic Communications is monitoring the situation and will provide any updates as soon as they are decided.
In the event the University's campus would close, students living on campus who cannot leave would be accommodated with housing and meals. Even if dining halls aren't operating, meals would be provided to all students on campus, according to the email.
Strategic Communications also encouraged the campus community not to travel during spring break.
"We realize many students had plans for spring break, and some have already spent money on those plans. But we ask you to consider where you would be traveling to, and what the situation would be like when you get there. Please use good judgement."
Students, faculty and staff were also warned against international travel and all non-essential business travel. All University-related travel must go through the University's High-Risk Travel process; however, those who return from international travel will be required to self-quarantine depending on the country they visited. All travel to countries with a Level Three or Four designation is denied, but travel to countries with a Level One or Two designation will first be seriously examined before a decision is made.
Strategic Communications pledged its ongoing transparency and communication as the situation continues.
"We are working with state and federal agencies to make these decisions, and we plan to make decisions based on factual information. We pledge to keep you informed of all decisions, and of any confirmed cases of the virus at LSU. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our plans as the need arises. Please know that all options are on the table and there is no scenario that we haven’t considered. We pledge to be transparent and keep you updated, as we all must work together to ensure the safety of our overall community."
For the latest information on the virus, travel advisories and any University updates, follow the University's official social media channels or click here.