BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU students who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to take monthly COVID tests while they're at school.
The new testing requirement was announced in a letter to LSU faculty, staff and students from President William Tate IV.
In the letter, Tate says that all students must submit proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Those that are unvaccinated will need to be tested for COVID-19 on a monthly basis throughout the semester.
A mask mandate will also be in place for the fall semester. Masks will also be required within 50 feet of building's entrances.
"I urge each of you – students, faculty, staff and your families – to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so. The vaccine is free, safe, effective and readily available on campus and throughout most communities. It is the single most effective thing you can do to help us restore 'normal' operations to the university," Tate said.
He went on to say that the school may modify its COVID-19 rules as the semester goes on.
"Our decisions will be based at all times on the latest available data and expertise from the Centers for Disease Control, Louisiana Department of Health and our own health and medical experts," Tate said.
Up until Wednesday, LSU had been holding out on issuing any kind of vaccination requirement, despite other schools in the state making COVID vaccines mandatory for students.
Our partners at WBRZ in Baton Rouge report that the school on Tuesday reiterated that it did not think it could institute a vaccine requirement, citing an opinion by Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry saying that any vaccine mandates are illegal.
Other universities in Louisiana have ignored this opinion, mandating COVID vaccines for students and staff. And a federal court ruled in favor of an Indiana university Monday, allowing them to proceed with plans to require vaccinations on campus.
Louisiana is experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19, possibly the most serious outbreak the state has seen yet.
On July 1, there were fewer than 300 patients hospitalized with COVID — near the lowest it had ever been since the pandemic started in March 2020.
Now, just over a month later, Louisiana has a record number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital with more than 2,100 reported Tuesday.
Louisiana also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Around 41.5% of the state's residents have received at least one COVID vaccine shot.