LSU advises against spring break travel amid coronavirus concerns; no confirmed cases at university

No confirmed cases of coronavirus at LSU; university taking precautions nonetheless

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU issued a statement March 11 regarding concerns about COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus.

The LSU student publication, Tiger TV, reports a professor has self-quarantined after their student instructor was tested for the virus.

An email sent by the professor to students says the employee is being tested for coronavirus, according to Tiger TV.

Ernie Ballard says there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at LSU.

“We know of at least one person who has expressed concern about exposure to the virus, and that has led to much public speculation. 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,” Ballard said.

Ballard’s statement was issued a day after River Parishes Community College (RPCC) in Gonzales notified faculty, staff, and students that one of its employees was being self-quarantined at home for possible coronavirus symptoms.

“In following with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, this employee will remain quarantined,” the email stated.

College operations and all classes at RPCC will continue as scheduled.

LSU officials say they are following the advice of public health officials at this time.

“We encourage you to be cautious of rumors and speculation on social media or in other sources where factual information is not provided,” Ballard said.

LSU officials urge any who is concerned about being exposed to the virus to contact their healthcare provider. Students can contact the student health center on LSU’s campus.

Ballard says LSU is aware of other universities and colleges around the country shutting down or moving classes online due to coronavirus concerns. He says LSU is considering these options and has asked faculty members to prepare for the possibility of moving to an online format. At this time, LSU is not yet opting to close or move entirely to online classes, according to Ballard. LSU officials say if the campus were to close, students who live on campus who are unable to leave will be accommodated.

Ballard says LSU is encouraging the campus community to not travel for spring break.

“We encourage 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. Would the travel put you in close contact with others? Would it expose you to people from places where the virus is more prevalent than it is in Louisiana? Please use good judgment,” Ballard said.

Administrators with LSU also urged faculty and students to be cautious of rumors and speculation on social media.

On March 6, LSU canceled study abroad programs through Aug. 17. Ballard says LSU continues to recommend against international travel for personal reasons.

While major changes have yet to be decided upon, smaller changes can be seen throughout campus. In the dinning halls at LSU, food that was once self-serve is now only being served by employees.

“We have simply eliminated self-service,” said Cheramie Gosmerl, marketing manager for LSU Dining. “So everything is moved from the back of the line, our attendants can serve all of their guests. Gives us a little more control of the situation.”

High contact items such as saltshakers have also been removed from student access.

“With the spread of germs and when we listen to all the things that we’ve been told about how the virus can be spread,” she said. “we try to do things to eliminate those risk factors in the dining hall.”

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