Published: April 21, 2021
By: Adrian Dubose | LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE, La. – After announcing this week that they will not require students to get COVID-19 vaccines, the presidents of LSU and the University of Louisiana System said Wednesday that they are reviewing how to accommodate faculty members who feel they might be at risk in returning to in-person classes this fall.
Dr. Jim Henderson, president of the UL system, said the nine universities in his system will assess requests by faculty members to teach online on a case-by-case basis assuming that the vaccines are as effective as expected and depending on public health conditions at the time.
Henderson said administrators will consider age, medical conditions and family health concerns, along with the latest public health guidance, in making the decisions.
“Widespread vaccination is just recently underway,” he said, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and other researchers “are collecting copious amounts of data that will lead to much more informed decision-making over the coming weeks.”
But if the pandemic worsens, he said, “we will adapt. Ensuring the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff are paramount,” he said.
“We will err on the side of health and safety,” he added.
LSU Interim President Tom Galligan said his university has not decided whether it would require unvaccinated students to wear masks to class or tell professors how many unvaccinated students were in their classes.
Henderson said the UL System does not plan to make such lists. “The idea of keeping and sharing a list of unvaccinated students for masking is logistically impractical and likely legally problematic,” he said.
“The vaccine is the protection for the faculty members and students,” Henderson said. “If the vaccine is determined to be insufficient protection for the vaccinated, everyone will wear masks. If the environment is still not safe, based on public health guidance, we will go back to widespread accommodations.”
Henderson said he had discussed the options for faculty exemptions with the presidents of the universities in his system. The nine schools together have nearly 92,000 students.
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