LSU COVID-19 Testing

Stations sit on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020 for COVID-19 testing outside of the Student Union on LSU's campus.

A major tool in the University’s response to COVID-19 is the daily symptom checker, but some students and faculty are questioning its effectiveness.

The daily assessment asks participants if they have been tested for the virus or experienced any COVID-19-like symptoms in the past 10 days. It then provides feedback about whether or not the participant is cleared to return to campus.

All University students, faculty and staff are required to fill out the daily symptom checker every day including those working or studying remotely.

Political communication professor Nathan Kalmoe said he didn’t feel comfortable bringing his students into the classroom this semester. He chose to hold all his classes virtually and work from home. As a result, he did not partake in the daily symptom checker for several days.

“My frustration is that I filled out the ‘return to campus’ form at the start of the year indicating I wouldn’t return until the pandemic is over, and they still expect me to fill out a daily ‘can you return’ form,” Kalmoe said.

Kalmoe said he found the wording of the daily reminder to be misleading.

The message formerly told students, faculty and staff they must complete the daily symptom check every day “in order to be eligible to practice and/or return to campus.”

The COVID-19 response team notified Kalmoe via email that he was identified as a current employee who failed to complete the symptom checker for the week.

Kalmoe responded to the University email with a suggestion to clarify the message wording.

“All current LSU students and employees are required to complete this symptom check every day whether you will be visiting campus or not,” the message now reads.

The Roadmap to Fall website says students working remotely are expected to fill out the form, citing the possibility of changes in plans resulting in a return to campus.

Speech pathology graduate student Anna Moody said there was a period of time she intentionally neglected to fill out the form to see the result.

“I didn’t fill out the form for over a week and literally nothing happened,” Moody said. “It’s unfortunate knowing there’s no consequences.”

Mechanical engineering freshman Kenneth Tarleton said he noticed a subtle yet major change in the delivery of the daily symptom checker. It was formally sent to his priority tab in his school email inbox but is now found in his “other” tab.

“Now there isn’t a notification sent when receiving this reminder and it’s being neglected in the same place as where most junk emails go,” Tarleton said.

Tarleton said he occasionally forgets to fill out the form, but he worries about those who purposefully do not fill it out.

“I can only imagine the students and staff that care less about the virus and its spread,” Tarleton said. “Normally, I wouldn’t think that this would be such a big deal, but with more than half the tests being self-reported and no reprimands being put in place, this change cannot go unnoticed.”

Tartleton said he felt dissatisfied and frustrated but didn’t know where to go to talk about these frustrations.

LSU Media Relations Director Ernie Ballard said students, faculty and staff have the option to give the University feedback on its response to COVID-19. This includes the comment section on the return to campus form, as well as the offices of the Emergency Operations Center and the the President.

Ballard also said social media channels are a great source of feedback for the University.

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