NSU prepares for another semester with COVID-19


Tyrenisha James

Students return to face-to-face classes during a historic rise in Louisiana’s COVID-19 cases.

With college students starting school at Northwestern State University of Louisiana during a surge in COVID-19 delta variant cases, measures are being taken to ensure a successful semester.

According to Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Greg Handel, planning for the fall semester was modeled after the fall 2019 semester.

“We planned, as did all the schools in our system and in the state, to roll out as close to ordinary as fall 2019 as possible,” Handel said. “By the time that the delta variant took hold and surged, it was too late to make a shift.”

Marcus Jones, interim president of NSU, said NSU is in a better position to have face-to-face classes.

“We are in a better position now than a year ago to have a larger percentage of our classes to be face-to-face,” Jones said. “We have a large percentage of our population that has been vaccinated.”

Dr. Francene Lemoine, biology professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that receiving the vaccine has its benefits.

“Vaccinated individuals have a tremendous benefit in the level of infection they are seeing in terms of the disease,” Lemoine said. “People who are fully vaccinated are not nearly as sick and greatly reduced their chances of hospitalization and death, compared to unvaccinated people.”

Jones said the vaccine shot record requirement is not going to be considered a vaccine mandate.

“It is not a vaccine mandate,” Jones said. “It is just adding the COVID vaccine to the list of the required vaccines with the option of getting a waiver for religious or philosophical reasons.”

Handel said NSU is back to some regular campus life.

“Lots were full so you know that certainly is a good thing for us as an institution,” Handel said. “But it also means that we all have a bigger responsibility.”

Jones said NSU will continue to follow the guidance that is provided by the Louisiana Department of Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There will be a required wearing of masks indoors and we will continue to provide vaccine clinics, and testing sites throughout the semester,” Jones said.

Lemoine said it is difficult to know how long the delta variant will be around.

“The best thing that we can do to try to prevent more variants from developing is to prevent infection,” Lemoine said. “That means masking, social distancing and vaccinations.”

On Aug. 25 and Sep. 1 a vaccine clinic will be held at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at 7 p.m. Students can find the link to receive the vaccine in Student Messenger.