Labor union group calls for LSU to suspend all in-person activities after spike of new COVID-19 cases

Labor union group calls for LSU to halt all in-person activities after school sees spike in COVID-19 cases

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Just one day after LSU Interim President Tom Galligan announced the university is reporting 137 new COVID-19 infections (bringing the total number of cases up to 366), one group is urging the school to essentially suspend all in-person activities.

The group is the United Campus Workers of Louisiana; some teachers at LSU are members.

“The beginning of the school year is a really important time, especially in this pandemic, so the next week or so, the next ten days are going to be critical for us,” said LSU Interim President Tom Galligan during a Zoom conference held Wednesday, Sept. 2.

Galligan says while most students are following the guidelines and wearing their masks, there have been some violations. He says the recent rise of COVID-19 cases among students is concerning.

“If we do the right things, we’ll be here for the semester. If we don’t do the right things, then we may well have to alter our plans and go remote again,” said Galligan.

Meanwhile, one organization is already urging the Louisiana Board of Regents to stop all face-to-face activities on campus at LSU and other campuses across the state.

“For the protection of not only all campus workers, including faculty, staff, facility services, and undergrad student workers like RAs and student athletes, and also to protect the communities at large,” said Anna McGill with the United Campus Workers of Louisiana.

McGill is also an English professor at LSU. She’s teaching all online classes right now, but she’s still hearing concerns from colleagues.

“I’m hearing from people who have to go to campus that students aren’t wearing masks in the libraries, out here on campus, seeing students not wearing masks, and it just feels unsafe,” said McGill.

WAFB spoke with a lot of freshmen at LSU, who have really had to adapt all of 2020: from coronavirus putting a wrinkle in their senior year of high school to adjusting to new restrictions moving on campus at LSU.

“I’d definitely prefer in person, just social interaction and getting the full experience of college, especially for our first year,” said Jacob Bernard, a freshman at LSU.

The students WAFB spoke with say most of their classes are already online and they’d like a little change.

“Especially like, one of my classes is a Zoom class and it only has 16 people in it, so I think that that could be a class that we could do outside or do something else that wasn’t just sitting on a Zoom class,” said Abby Vantrieste, another freshman.

But some students wants to stick with virtual learning.

“I think it’s better to be online just to play it safe. I’m not really worried about the first year experience because we’ve got years to come after that, so I’m just worried about my safety and the safety of my friends,” said Aleesha Dunn, a freshman.

The United Campus Workers of Louisiana released the following statement:

“United Campus Workers of Louisiana calls on the LSU Board of Supervisors to immediately halt face-to-face activities to stop the spread of Covid-19. A week into LSU’s regular semester, the University has reported 366 positive cases of COVID-19 in the Baton Rouge campus community and 20 students are quarantining on LSU’s main campus. As of Wednesday, September 2nd, the University has charged four student organizations with violating the university’s code of conduct as it relates to the coronavirus, and videos shared with local television station WAFB show wild parties held by LSU students with no masking or social distancing.”

Click here to read the complete statement.

ONE-STOP-SHOP: Stats, links related to COVID-19

The school has said they’d be open to meeting with the group. The university released the following statement in response to the group’s request:

“We would be happy to meet with them to walk them through all the various factors we are keeping an eye on — number of positives being one. But that number by itself can’t be considered in isolation without understanding what’s behind it and the other factors we are tracking as well. There’s no one trigger that we are watching. There are multiple and it’s more akin to a temperature gauge.”

Click here to report a typo.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.