Daily symptom checker

A graphic from the LSU Twitter account on August 22, 2021 reminds students to complete the daily symptom checker.

Waking up to a schedule laden with completely arbitrary tasks is part of the student’s job description. From message boards to Moodle, the mundane and mandatory seem to subsume much of “student life.”

However, the most egregious of all busy work graces student inboxes early—like, 3 A.M. early—each morning, rousing students with the urgent subject line "Action Required: LSU Daily Symptom Check."

While it only takes moments to fill out, the survey is particularly annoying to fill out as it fails to serve the university’s goals or benefit the student in any meaningful way. This is a shame because, if implemented properly, the symptom checker could be an incredibly valuable resource.

As a flagship school of nearly 35,000 students, the university would serve as an excellent survey area for studying the motion of the COVID-19 virus. Moreover, with a vaccination rate of 81%, studies could be conducted on the vaccine's efficacy against different strains of the virus.

Perhaps these ideas were embedded in the construction of the service, but without proper incentive, students often leave these emails unopened.

Despite the "required" in the symptom checker's subject line, few areas on campus enforce its use. The Student Union is an exception, as employees are stationed at some entrances to verify completion of the symptom checker. This approach can be hit or miss, as students easily slip into the Union without ever being stopped.

To encourage students to use the service, the university ought to provide useful benefits for filling out the survey. Should a student contract or become exposed to COVID-19, an automated email to professors informing them of the student's absence would save students time and paperwork. Not only would this encourage more potentially contagious students to inform the university, better equipping the university to better combat the virus, it also lifts the alleviates the burden of students with professors who are particular about excused absences.

If a student does need to be tested, providing verification of a COVID-19 test on the symptom checker seems to be intuitive. Instead, students are sent yet another email with another form to fill out. These processes could very easily be consolidated into one system, making it more accessible and user-friendly.

A year into the whole matter, it has become apparent that the coronavirus is not going anywhere. These initially temporary services have since proven to be of great importance to the university and greater Baton Rouge alike, and should be redesigned to be more functional.

By making the daily symptom checker a more useful “one-stop" service, students become more inclined to use the service. This betters the information available for research, streamlines the process and saves us all time. The university provides a wonderful environment for study of the disease, and our leaders would be behooved to make it more useful for both students and the school alike.

Canaan Charrier is a 19-year-old finance, religious studies and international relations sophomore from Monroe.

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