Administration announces COVID-19 policies for spring semester

Harrison Thorn, Senior Staff Reporter

More details regarding the upcoming return to campus for the spring semester were announced Dec. 18 by an email from President Mike Fitts; Robin Forman, vice president for academic affairs and provost; and Patrick Norton, senior vice president and chief operating officer. 

All undergraduate students are expected to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to New Orleans, and to send test results to Campus Health. The email did not describe the process for if a student tests positive before returning to New Orleans. 

Once in New Orleans, on-campus students will report to the Arrival Center at the Hyatt Regency according to their move-in time slot for another COVID-19 test. Students must test negative before being allowed to return to their residence halls. Off-campus students, as well as faculty and staff, must be tested at one of the various Tulane testing centers before being allowed to return to class or work. 

Undergraduates will be tested an additional two times during the first week after returning to campus, according to a Dec. 18. email sent out by Campus Health that also described testing guidelines for students that have previously tested positive for COVID-19. Continuing into the semester, “students will be tested every other day the first few weeks of the semester — a period in which we saw a surge of cases in the fall,” Fitts, Forman and Norton said. 

Policies laid out in the administrators’ email that are continuing from last semester include the mask and social distancing requirements, the prohibition of visitors in residence halls, and the shortening and spacing out of classes. Students should check their class schedule to determine the impact this has on them. 

Spring break has been cancelled, and instead days off of class will be spread throughout the semester. The “Lagniappe Days” that will be replacing spring break have been officially determined as Feb. 16, March 10, March 22, April 8 and April 30. Breaking from previous years, the university will not be closed on Lundi Gras, Feb. 15. Instead, staff will be awarded an additional floating holiday that can be used on any day of the year. This change has been made to try to reduce the travel and congregation predicted around Mardi Gras.

“In addition to Lagniappe Days, to support mental health and wellness we have partnered with YOU at College,” Fitts, Forman and Norton said. YOU at College is an app that students, faculty and staff can download to receive personalized mental health assistance. 

The vaccines for COVID-19 made by Pfizer and Moderna have received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and are beginning to be administered nationwide. While this may signal the beginning of the end to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tulane students can expect changes to a regular spring semester similar to those of the fall.