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Unvaccinated LSU students must take monthly COVID tests this semester, university says

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BATON ROUGE - LSU says students who didn't get the COVID-19 vaccine must take a test each month showing they're not infected. 

On Wednesday, the university revealed its updated safety protocols for the fall semester, which included mandatory testing for unvaccinated students. The school says it will also continue to require masks indoors, but some professors are wanting more.

"The three things that are going to get us out of this pandemic is a vaccine mandate, social distancing and masks. The safety protocol really only addresses one of those things which is masks." said Professor Edward Shihadeh. 

The new testing requirement comes after many members of LSU's faculty pushed for the school to make the vaccine mandatory for students attending in-person classes.

"In the 29 years I've been here I've never seen faculty in such large numbers speak out about this. The entire faculty has spoken out quite clearly. About 90 percent are in favor of a vaccine mandate and far more aggressive measures than are being taken now," said Shihadeh. 

This week, LSU maintained that it cannot require the vaccine citing an opinion from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry saying it's illegal to require a vaccine that hasn't received full FDA approval.

Multiple private Louisiana universities have gotten approval from the Office of Public Health to mandate the shot.

All three of the current available vaccines are approved for emergency use, with the Pfizer shot expected to get full FDA approval in the coming weeks. 

Read the full statement from the university president below. 

Dear LSU Faculty, Staff and Students:

As we approach the end of summer vacation and the beginning of a new academic year, I write to update you on our plans for returning to full campus operations this fall. After reviewing recommendations from LSU’s Health and Medical Advisory Panel and hearing from many students, faculty and staff, we decided on a set of safety protocols that allow us to offer a residential college experience.

We require all students to submit proof of either a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Unvaccinated students must test on a monthly basis throughout the semester.

For the fall semester, we extended the mask mandate currently in place, which means masks or face coverings continue to be required indoors at all times, except when individuals are alone in their offices. This is consistent with the governor’s recent order. In addition, we require masks outdoors within 50 feet of entrances to buildings.

COVID-19 testing will continue to be required for students in residential and Greek housing when wastewater assessment shows a high prevalence of the virus. A full list of our fall semester protocols can be found here. I explain more about these protocols in this video.

I urge each of you – students, faculty, staff and your families – to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so. The vaccine is free, safe, effective and readily available on campus and throughout most communities. It is the single most effective thing you can do to help us restore “normal” operations to the university.

As we have done throughout, we will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic and be prepared to modify our approach as conditions warrant. Our decisions will be based at all times on the latest available data and expertise from the Centers for Disease Control, Louisiana Department of Health and our own health and medical experts.

We face a significant challenge in our efforts to realize an exceptional educational experience. To attain this goal will require discipline, vigilance, and a community-first mindset. With your continued support, I look forward with optimism to a successful fall semester.

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