By Piper Hutchinson, Louisiana Illuminator

Amid another surge in cases of COVID-19, just one public Louisiana university will require students returning to campus for the fall semester to be vaccinated against the disease. 

LSU Shreveport will require students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but the main LSU campus in Baton Rouge and LSU Alexandria will not require it. LSU Shreveport has required the vaccine for attendance since Fall 2021. Spokespeople for LSU Eunice and LSU’s two medical schools did not return a request for comment, although none required the vaccine for the previous semester. 

None of the nine institutions in the University of Louisiana System will require the vaccine, nor will Southern University in Baton Rouge or its law school. 

When asked for information on their employers’ COVID-19 policies, a spokesperson for Southern University Shreveport did not respond, while a spokesperson for Southern University New Orleans requested the question be posed via a public records request to the system office, a process that often takes months. Neither school required the vaccine for the previous semester. 

COVID-19 cases have spiked in early August, more than doubling since the end of May. There have been 4,718 cases reported in the past seven days, according to Louisiana Department of Health data, although the case count is significantly higher from the prevalence of at-home testing. 

The surge can be attributed to a new subvariant of Omicron, EG.5, currently the most common in the U.S., accounting for 17% of all new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. While the subvariant is more viral, it is not more severe than previous variants. 

While more recent variants result in less severe symptoms during the acute-COVID phase, they can still result in severe, disabling long-term symptoms, also known as long COVID, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. 

During the Fall 2022 semester, all but four public universities in the state required the shot.

Universities not requiring COVID vaccines are still encouraging them and will offer shots to students on campus. 

No schools will require masking, although the Southern University Law Center will require students with a known COVID-19 exposure to mask for five days. 

Both LSU and LSU Alexandria will have air filters in classrooms. LSU has had difficulty keeping the devices, which the university invested millions in, plugged in and running, according to The Reveille

LSU Alexandria also has ultraviolet light neutralizers that are used to disinfect surfaces in classrooms and other public spaces. 

This article was first published by the Louisiana Illuminator and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Greg LaRose for questions: Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

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