Dear students, faculty and staff members,
In recent days, we have seen an uptick in the number of students reporting positive COVID-19 test results. This unfortunate trend mirrors the rising number of cases in Acadiana, across Louisiana and throughout the nation.
Some of these cases at the University are in the School of Music and Performing Arts and include members of the marching band and a number of ensembles. Out of an abundance of caution, and to limit the virus’ potential spread, the school has suspended all on-campus music-making activities for 14 days.
In addition, the University is asking all student organizations to conduct virtual meetings and activities through Sunday, Nov. 16. Groups that have approved, in-person events scheduled that cannot be held virtually should contact the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement before proceeding.
You’ll recall we acted similarly earlier this semester and halted in-person student activities when we saw an increase in positive cases. Then, as now, these limitations are not punitive, but precautionary.
The bottom line is that we must slow the virus’ spread. Achieving this requires that we analyze the case data that’s available and act with vigilance and proactivity when we see movement in the wrong direction. The health and safety of our University family is far too precious to do otherwise.
I’d like you to think also about your own families. As Thanksgiving approaches, your actions and activities – both on campus and particularly off campus – could affect relatives and others with underlying health conditions who are more susceptible to the virus.
The end of the semester is near, and the health and safety protocols we put in place have gotten us this far with relatively low rates of COVID-19. That’s because of your assistance. Thank you.
But we aren’t finished yet, and I’m asking for your continued cooperation, particularly if you are participating in previously planned in-person events that will be held as scheduled in the coming days.
Many of these activities are outdoors, and that provides a healthier environment and one that enables greater social distancing. These include the ring ceremony, veterans cording, and Saturday’s football game at Cajun Field, where extensive safety protocols have been in place throughout the season. If you are going to the game, mask up, keep your distance and be mindful of the guidelines.
As a result of the decision to limit in-person activities in the School of Music, the marching band and color guard will be absent from Saturday’s game. We’ll certainly miss them and the music and spirit that they bring. I know it’s a sacrifice for them and for all our student musicians and faculty members who are affected by this decision.
I appreciate their cooperation and diligence. I also want to thank members of our student organizations for their cooperation and agility as their activities have changed throughout the semester.
As the rising number of cases in our region and state show, this pandemic remains a clear and present threat. There are only two weeks left in the semester, and the actions we take now can ensure that we safely and successfully reach its conclusion. Please:
- monitor your health daily and, if you have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, stay home and seek medical attention;
- wear a mask or face covering, both on and off campus;
- keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others;
- avoid congregating;
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing;
- wash your hands for 20 seconds using water and soap; and
- clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
In addition, I want to encourage you to take advantage of free, on-campus COVID-19 testing. It is available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at Cypress Lake Plaza at the intersection of Hebrard Boulevard and Boucher Street. You should register here, print the voucher, and bring it with you to your appointment.
More people are participating in on-campus testing, so if you visit the website and can’t get an appointment time, check back. It’s encouraging that members of the campus community are using this resource and taking their own health – and that of their colleagues, friends and family members – seriously.
I know this has been a long semester and a long eight months, and I recognize that fatigue has become a daily companion for many of us. But the finish line is in sight, and we can get there – together.
Stay safe and thank you,
Dr. Joseph Savoie