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The new normal

Tech to start classes under COVID guidelines Thursday
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
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Leader photos by CALEB DANIEL

Louisiana Tech University will begin fall quarter classes on Thursday under guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Pictured from left to right are Bossier Parish Community College student Joshua Gilley and Tech freshmen Jada Lewis, Austin Fulgham and Nick Gilley taking a masked walk in the Quad on Tech campus Tuesday.

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Tech freshman Gabriel Jose carries the last of his things into the Graham Hall dormitories Tuesday.

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Signs at Louisiana Tech’s College of Business bathrooms encourage social distancing.

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Louisiana Tech University’s policies and guidelines aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on campus will be put to the test this week, as the university completed student move-in Tuesday and will begin fall quarter classes Thursday.

Similarly to the second summer session, Tech’s fall quarter will include a mix of in-person, virtual and hybrid class formats. An interim “safe health practices” policy is in place, dictating procedures for mask-wearing, social distancing, hygiene and symptom reporting.

Tech President Les Guice said in a Sunday update to students and faculty that full compliance with these guidelines is needed to keep the campus safe.

“Please do not let your guard down in doing those things that are so essential for reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Guice said. “As you gather (in small groups), please keep those masks on and keep your physical distancing. Consistently doing those things enables us all to be together in a safe way on our campus.”

In its online case tracker, the New York Times reported more than 51,000 cases of COVID-19 on more than 1,000 college campuses across the country as of last week, though those figures date back to the beginning of the pandemic and do not all represent current cases. Some 24,000 of those cases were reported since late August as more universities reopen for the fall.

Tech’s safety measures include:

• Face masks or coverings must be worn indoors, except in private offices, and outdoors when six feet of physical distance is impossible.

• Occupancy in classrooms, at events and gatherings will be reduced to adhere with current guidelines from the state of Louisiana. In the current Phase Two, that means no more than 50 people inside an indoor venue and no more than 50% capacity in an outdoor venue.

• Students, faculty, and staff on campus are expected to practice robust personal hygiene, including frequent handwashing and sanitation of shared surfaces like conference room tables, dining room tables, and lab benches.

• Students and staff are expected to selfmonitor for any CO- VID-19 symptoms. If they develop any, they are to contact their professor or supervisor and stay home. One must be free of any symptoms related to COVID-19 to participate on campus.

• A special section of housing will be set aside for students who need to quarantine.

Incoming students moved into campus residence halls during pre-approved time slots from Friday through Tuesday. Students were divided up and visitors limited to encourage social distancing.

The fall quarter started today with some placement exams, while regular classes begin Thursday.

“We have worked for six months to prepare for this week,” Guice said. “Many have been involved in planning every aspect of the return to campus to ensure that our students, faculty and staff would have a safe and healthy environment, while enabling all to continue their educational pursuits with the great experiential learning opportunities that are the hallmark of Louisiana Tech’s academic programs.”