Prevention and Management of COVID-19 on the LSUHSC Campuses

Guidelines Reviewed on December 12, 2022

LSUHSC Campus Guidelines Highlights

Preventive Measures

  • Preventing the spread of infection is everyone’s responsibility.  It is our best defense against COVID-19.  Vaccination is essential to protect ourselves and the greater community. LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans (“LSUHSC-NO”) strongly recommends all employees and students to get vaccinated (including the bivalent booster when eligible).  Appropriate self-isolation immediately after developing symptoms or having a positive test for COVID-19 is important to our campus safety.  Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and get tested for COVID even if vaccinated.  Wearing masks and good hand hygiene remain required of ALL students, employees, visitors, and contract workers in clinical settings on campus. Masks are optional for those who choose to wear them in non-clinical areas although they may be required in some course settings. Clinical areas are defined as room or units where patients are being cared for. Physical distancing is highly encouraged whenever possible ESPECIALLY when masking is not possible. Vaccination lowers but does not eliminate the risk of transmission. Therefore, we continue to require these preventive measures even after vaccination against COVID-19.  A combination of all preventive measures will ultimately be required to end the pandemic.
     
  • A key to prevention is not coming to campus if you are experiencing any potential symptoms of COVID. (Please see the section (Management of employees/students with suspected or documented Covid 19 or exposure to Covid 19).
     
  • Masks: 
    • LSUHSC-NO requires that masks be worn properly (covering the nose and mouth) in all CLINICAL settings on campus (unless one is eating or drinking a beverage). A clinical setting is defined as anyplace on campus where patient activity is occurring.
    • In student small group and laboratory settings, use of masks is strongly encouraged and may be required by course directors. 
    • In non-clinical administrative areas, masks are OPTIONAL
    • When having meetings or gatherings, please be sensitive to others around you - ask if anyone would prefer masking and if so, please accommodate. 
    • Mask characteristics: When masking is required, personnel should wear AT LEAST a well-fitting surgical grade mask (covering nose and mouth). Cloth masks and neck “gaiters” are no longer acceptable. KN95 or N95 masks will be preferred in certain clinical and academic settings with high exposure to nasopharygeal secretions (such as ENT clinic, speech therapy sessions, and dental clinic) or when social distancing and other mitigation efforts may not be fully accomplished.
    • Metrics used to determine masking requirements
      • As a healthcare provider, LSUHSC-NO mandates masking in all clinical areas for the foreseeable future. As recommendations from CDC or LDH change, LSUHSC-NO will modify this requirement
      • For non-clinical settings on campus, LSUHSC-NO determines the need for masking based on local COVID-19 transmission parameters such as local COVID-19 testing positivity, new COVID_19 cases, COVID-19 admission rates, and percent of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
  • Physical Distancing:  Whenever possible, one should maintain appropriate physical distancing (a minimum of six (6) feet) between you and the person with whom you are talking, eating, or sitting.  This is particularly important while eating and masks are off as well as in smaller enclosed areas (i.e., a break room). The possibility of COVID-19 transmission is highest when people are close together and unmasked.
     
  • Vaccination:  LSUHSC-NO strongly recommends that all employees and students be optimally vaccinated against COVID-19 “CDC recommends that people ages 5 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, whether that was:

    • Their final primary series dose, or
    • An original (monovalent) booster
       
    • People who have gotten more than one original (monovalent) booster are also recommended to get an updated (bivalent) boost”
       
  • Individuals  who have received boosters are the best protected against getting symptomatic COVID-19. Individuals who are current on booster injections as per CDC protocol are considered up to date by the CDC.
     
  • A link to booster recommendations is found here 
  • The LSUHSC campus clinic considers individuals who are up to date on vaccinations as per CDC Guidance to be “fully protected” as it pertains to exposure and quarantining protocols (see below).

    Pregnant and breastfeeding women may consult campus health and the following CDC site for information. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html)
     
  • LSU faculty, students and staff must submit their vaccination (including any booster doses) information into the LSUHSC COVID-19 documentation site found at https://911.lsuhsc.edu/coronavirus/. Requests for exemptions are also entered at that site. In order to participate in on campus activities as a student or an employee, your vaccination status MUST be entered into our online portal.
    • Individuals who are not fully vaccinated may be required to undergo periodic surveillance testing in the Campus Health Clinic. 
    • The only absolute contraindication is having a known severe allergic reaction to the components of the vaccine. The State of Louisiana also allows religious exemptions.
       
  • It is important to note, that everyone should continue to follow other preventive measures such as social distancing and masking frequently, even after being vaccinated and boosted.  For the purposes of this document, a fully vaccinated individual is one who is greater than two weeks out from completing the COVID-19 series. CDC recommends boosters if has been more than 2 months from the last COVID 19 vaccine dose.
     
  • https://cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html
     
  • We are monitoring for further recommendations from the CDC for those who have completed booster vaccinations with the bivalent booster.
     
  • Quarantine after exposures and self-isolation if sick or COVID-19 positive are important measures as well. See details in Section below.
     

Guidance for On-Campus Activities

  • General Principles for group activity on Campus:  We are continually monitoring community spread and the local, regional and national recommendations regarding restrictions in group activity.
    • Most recent local and state guidelines may be found at:
    • LSU Participants in ANY on-campus activities must have entered their COVID-19 vaccination status (included booster doses) in the LSUHSC COVID-19 vaccine portal found on the LSUHSC COVID-19 page:https://911.lsuhsc.edu/coronavirus/
      • Visiting students attending LSUHSC-NO for rotation/research experience
        • Pre-matriculation students and other non-clinical visitors are encouraged to be vaccinated, but vaccination is not required.
        • Visiting students for clinical or research rotations must fully adhere to all vaccination policies in the facilities in which they are working. Our hospital partners require either proof of vaccination or reporting of vaccination.
           
    • Room use guidelines
      • Rooms on campus have occupancy limits posted on the doorway.  We urge everyone to maintain at least six feet apart even if the room is not at its occupancy limit.
         
    • Masking is optional in non-clinical settings.
       
  • Academic/Curricular gatherings (including continuing education events that include outside participants)
    • Large in-person academic/curricular gatherings (>25 people) such as lectures and conferences
      • As much as possible, these events should be scheduled in rooms that can accommodate physical distancing. 
      • Mask requirements for these gatherings will be the same as the requirement for other educational activities on campus. If distancing is not achievable or there will be close contacts amongst participants, masks are highly encouraged and may be required at the discretion of the course director(s).
  • Depending on local COVID-19 transmission statistics course directors can resume planning and conducting academic activities as best for the curricular objectives. The only additional requirement would be the provision of a virtual option as much as possible.  

     
  • Non-academic/non-curricular meetings: Non-academic/non-curricular meetings  are permitted but can change dependent on local COVID 19 transmission statistics..
    • Such gatherings would include club meetings, campus tours, and social events.
    • Organizers are asked to determine the necessity of in-person events. If on-campus gatherings are desired, organizers are responsible for strict adherence to physical distancing, and room capacity guidelines for these events.
    • In advance of the meeting, organizers should inform attendees that anyone who is experiencing potential symptoms of Covid should not attend.
       
  • Campus Wellness Center. The Wellness Center will follow the mask requirements for non-clinical settings. Anyone who is ill or experiencing respiratory symptoms should not enter the facility. Equipment should be spaced to maintain physical distancing requirements. Equipment and other high touch surfaces should be cleaned at least every 24 hours using approved cleaning agents. For CDC guidance see:
  • Cafeteria and other eating venues
    • Mask requirements will follow those for non-clinical settings.
    • People should maintain at least six feet of distance while eating.
       

Guidance for Off-Campus Activities that are sponsored or organized by LSUHSC-NO faculty/staff/students involving other LSUHSC-NO personnel

  • LSU sponsored off-campus activities such as fundraising events and social gatherings
    • Schools and departments may use LSU Health Foundation funds for off campus fundraising events or social gatherings.  LSUHSC-NO expects organizers to ensure that all local guidelines for COVID-19 prevention are followed. State general funds will not be used for off campus social gatherings.
    • Student organizations may also sponsor off-campus events as long as these gatherings adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines. Organizers are expected to ensure adherence.
       
  • Travel: Vaccination is not required for domestic travel for academic meetings and other non-clinical activity. As per LSUHSC policy, vaccination is HIGHLY ENCOURAGED for all LSUHSC employees and students. Compliance with portal entry of vaccination status is also required and may be verified prior to approval of travel. Travel to deliver patient care at remote sites (e.g. scheduled clinics at correctional institutes or remote hospitals) will continue to be approved and reimbursed as it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    • International Travel
    • Domestic travel
      • At this time, all students and employees are eligible for work-related travel for meetings using LSUHSC-NO or Foundation funds. It is highly recommended that supervisors encourage travelers to register their vaccination status in our on-line registration portal. Exemptions will be accepted for travel.
      • All students and employees are expected to adhere to all policies and procedures of the sponsoring organizations as well as location.
         
  • Clinical activities based at off-campus sites
    • LSUHSC strongly encourages COVID-19 vaccination and applicable boosters for all employees. All clinical personnel must also follow affiliated health system policies and procedures regarding COVID-19 vaccination including any vaccination mandates.
    • Clinical personnel must follow all hospital or clinic policies pertaining to COVID-19.  This includes policies regarding vaccination, testing and isolation after exposure.  (Non-clinical personnel who are based at a hospital or clinic must also adhere to the vaccination policies of that partnering clinical institution.)
    • Clinical personnel should be educated on proper use of PPE.  This includes donning and doffing of PPE as well as proper N95 respirator use.
    • Caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients
      • Entry into patient rooms should be minimized as part of good infection prevention practices.
      • Individuals not involved in direct care of that patient should remain outside of the patient room.
      • Vaccinated students on clinical rotations may volunteer to participate in the direct care of these patients if allowed by the clinical site.
    • Caring for non-COVID-19 patients in the inpatient or outpatient setting (including AHEC rotations)
      • Clinical personnel should always wear appropriate PPE.
      • Eye protection is recommended, especially in small examination rooms.
      • Facemasks for patients are encouraged, especially in the ambulatory setting.
         
  • LSUHSC-NO Students returning from away rotations
    • All LSUHSC-NO students are encouraged to enter their vaccination status in the on-line portal PRIOR to approval of elective rotations at other schools.  
    • The student is responsible to insure adherence to all policies and procedures of the sponsoring institution(s).
       
  • Volunteering activities:
    • Currently, community facing student volunteer activities at existing and already approved locations are allowed  if all of the following conditions are met:
      • Students must be fully vaccinated or have received and exemption from LSUNO HSC
      • Mask wearing is always required if requested by site or if it is indoors involving close physical contact. In any clinical site, masking is required.
      • Physical distancing is maintained as much as possible
      • Direct supervision of any clinical activities is provided (on site)
      • PPE is available
      • There is a written and approved COVID mitigation plan
    • Students participating in optional clinical experiences (including shadowing and outpatient clinics) are encouraged to enter their vaccination status into the online portal prior to participation. Those with exemptions to vaccination will be accepted and able to participate. The student is responsible to insure adherence to all policies and procedures of the sponsoring institution(s).
    • Enforcement of these policies is the responsibility of the participating Schools through the faculty mentors.
    • We will reassess the advisability of approving public facing volunteer activities as we continually monitor COVID case rates in our communities.
  • Any alteration of existing or any new volunteer activities must include documentation of prospective COVID-19 mitigation efforts taking place at the offsite location AND must have prior approval of the Dean of the involved school.

Management of Employees/Students with Suspected or Documented COVID-19 or Exposure to COVID-19

  • General Principles
    • Quarantine after potential exposure to COVID-19:  All individuals who have had moderate-to-high-risk exposure to known or suspected COVID-19 patients must follow the procedures available here.  People who have had moderate- to-high-risk exposures may be a major factor in continued spread in the population.  Moderate-to-high-risk exposure is defined as close contact (within six feet) with the source individual for a total of >15 minutes over a 24-hour period regardless of mask use. Therefore, everyone with such an exposure should be tested as soon as possible and contact the Campus Health Clinic (504 412-1995)
    • Self-isolation if you test positive or develop symptoms:  LSUHSC-NO requires all students and employees to isolate themselves from campus and report if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or have a positive COVID test, regardless of vaccination status.  See procedure available here.  Individuals are generally the most infectious for several days prior to onset of symptoms through several days after the onset of symptoms.
    • The first day of exposure or COVID-19 diagnosis is considered DAY 0.
    • CDC provides a calculator that can be used for the general population to determine the length of quarantine or self-isolation for a variety of scenarios. This and other information is available at :  cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/easy-to-read/COVID-19-Quarantine-vs.-Isolation.html
       

W hat should you do if you have symptoms and a positive COVID 19 Rapid Antigen or COVID-19 PCR test

  • LSUHSC-NO requires that you self-report by calling the Campus Health Clinic (504 412-1995).  You should also report using the online reporting system (LSUHSC-NO online self-reporting platforms)
  • Do not come to work or school.  Isolation from campus is required even if you are fully vaccinated.
  • LSUHSC-NO also recommends that you self-isolate at home (follow CDC guidance about household prevention).
  • Seek medical care if needed.
  • In addition to notifying the Campus Health Clinic, LSUHSC-NO encourages you to notify your supervisor so that we can begin testing or isolating colleagues that you may have exposed, and have your workspace cleaned if necessary.  You and your supervisor can also discuss leave policies.
  • The Campus Health Clinic will ask about symptoms and their date of onset, help determine whether you should seek medical care, and decide when you can return to work.
  • The Campus Health Clinic will work with your supervisor to determine if you placed other campus personnel at moderate-to-high risk of infection in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset.  Moderate-risk exposures include conversations at less than six feet of distance for a total of 15 minutes or longer within a 24-hour period regardless of mask use.
  • Clearance to return to campus will be determined by Campus Health using CDC guidelines:
    • LSUHSC-NO requires you to remain isolated from campus for at least 5 days after symptom onset and until there has been near resolution in other symptoms and until you have had no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
    • Individuals must use KN95 or N95 masks upon return to campus until 10 days after symptom onset. Eating and drinking should be done away from others for total 10 days after diagnosis.
    • If you are hospitalized or immunocompromised, an infectious disease expert may determine when you can safely return to campus, or you must remain in isolation for at least 20 days since symptom onset, absence of fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicines and improvement of other symptoms.
       

We do not recommend repeat testing at this time. Antigen testing at the end of infection might be helpful but not required. Antigen and PCR tests can remain positive for several weeks after infection.  Your test may remain positive even after you are no longer infectious to others.

What should you do if you are symptomatic but have not had a COVID-19 test

  • LSUHSC-NO requires that you self-report by calling the Campus Health Clinic (504 412-1995).
  • Do not come to work or school.  Isolation from campus is required even if you are fully vaccinated.
  • LSUHSC-NO also recommends that you self-isolate at home (follow CDC guidance about household prevention).
  • Seek medical care if needed.
  • You should also use the online self-isolation reporting form (LSUHSC-NO online self-reporting platform) in addition to notifying the Campus Health Clinic (504 412-1995).
  • We encourage students and employees to notify their supervisors about any possible COVID-19 symptoms, to discuss whether or not you have had close contacts that will require testing or quarantine if you test positive.  You and your supervisor can also discuss leave policies.
  • Call the Campus Health Clinic about symptoms and the date of symptom onset.  They will encourage you to get tested, help you determine whether you should seek medical care, and determine when you can return to work.
  • Campus Health will recommend a COVID-19 PCR test to confirm the diagnosis and to determine if there were moderate-to-high-risk exposures to other campus personnel beginning 48 hours prior to symptom onset.  Moderate-to-high-risk exposures include conversations at less than six feet distance for a total of 15 minutes or longer within a 24-hour period regardless of mask use.
    • If test is negative or was not performed and there is low suspicion for COVID-19 as determined on follow-up with the Campus Health Clinic, then you may return to campus when symptoms resolve.
    • If test is negative or was not performed and there is high suspicion for COVID-19 as determined on follow-up with the Campus Health Clinic, or if test is positive, then return to campus:
      • At least 5 days since symptom onset, absence fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicines, and improvement of other symptoms
      • Individuals must use KN95 or N95 masks upon return to campus until 10 days after symptom onset. Eating and drinking should be done away from others for total 10 days after diagnosis.
  • If hospitalized or immunocompromised, at least 20 days since symptom onset, absence of fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicines and improvement of other symptoms
     

What should you do if you are asymptomatic and have had a positive Covid 19 Rapid Antigen or positive COVID-19 PCR test

  • LSUHSC-NO requires you to self-report by calling the Campus Health Clinic (504 412-1995).  You should also report using the online reporting system (LSUHSC-NO online self-reporting platforms)
  • Do not come to work or school.  Isolation from campus is required even if you are fully vaccinated and boosted.
  • LSUHSC-NO also recommends that you self-isolate at home (follow CDC guidance about household prevention).
  • In addition to notifying the Campus Health Clinic, LSUHSC-NO encourages you to notify your supervisor so that we can begin isolating colleagues that you may have exposed and have your workspace cleaned if necessary.  You and your supervisor can also discuss leave policies.
  • If you had documented COVID-19 within the last 90 days, the test is most likely a persistent positive test related to your previous infection and you may not be required to self-isolation.
  • Campus Health will work with your supervisor to determine if there were moderate-to-high-risk exposures to other campus personnel beginning 48 hours prior to the positive test.  Moderate-to-high-risk exposures include conversations at less than six feet distance for 15 minutes or longer over a 24 hour period regardless of mask use.
  • Return to campus clearance will be determined by the Campus Health Clinic in accordance with CDC guidelines:
    • At least 5 days after the positive test, provided the student/employee remains asymptomatic.
    • Individuals must use KN95 or N95 masks upon return to campus until 10 days after symptom onset unless immunocompromised. Immunocompromised individuals must use KN95 or N95 masks for 20 days after diagnosis.
    • Eating and drinking should be done away from others for total 10 days (or 20 days if immunocompromised) after diagnosis.

 

What should you do if you have had a moderate-to-high-risk exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual

  • We recommend that everyone (whether unvaccinated, vaccinated, or boosted) who has had a moderate to high-risk exposure get tested immediately in order to determine if you are already infected.  If this initial test is positive, then follow the guidelines for a positive COVID-19 PCR test above. If this initial test is negative, then management depends on your vaccination status.
  • COVID-19 vaccine boosted individuals who test negative at the time of exposure may continue working with ongoing monitoring for symptoms and strict adherence to our mask and social distancing policies. It is recommended for patients to test at 5-7 days after exposure. Individuals must use KN95 or N95 masks while on campus until 10 days after exposure.
  • Individuals who are not boosted (vaccinated or not) and who test negative at the time of exposure must quarantine from campus for 5 days and monitor for the development of symptoms. It is recommended to test at 5-7 days after exposure.
  • Essential clinical personnel should follow their hospital or clinic guidelines.
  • Note that there are additional requirements if you are living with and caring for someone who has tested positive.
    • COVID-19 vaccine boosted individuals who are living with and caring for someone who has tested positive must get tested as soon as possible and at Days 5 and 10 after exposure. The individual should closely monitor for symptoms and get tested if they develop. While on campus, they MUST use KN95 or N95 masks upon return to campus until 10 days after the initial positive patient has recovered (up to 20 days). Eating and drinking should be done away from others during this time.
    • Individuals who are not COVID-19 vaccine boosted, and who are caring for a COVID positive person in the home must continue to quarantine from campus for 17 days after the source patient tested positive, while monitoring for symptoms. The individual must be tested prior to return to campus. If symptoms develop, they should follow the guidelines for symptomatic individuals above.  
  • Additionally, all individuals with a COVID exposure should:
    • Call the Campus Health Clinic (504 412-1995) to determine when it is safe to return to work. 
    • Should also use the online self-isolation reporting form (LSUHSC-NO online self-reporting platforms) in addition to notifying the Campus Health Clinic (504 412-1995).
    • Notify their supervisor.
       

COVID-19 management in employees who are integral to clinical patient care

In general, clinical employees will follow the guidelines of their current clinical sites (hospital or HealthCare Network Clinic).  Clinical sites may define a moderate-high-risk exposure differently (i.e., close contact without full PPE including eye protection or exposure to an aerosolized procedure without full PPE).  Clinical sites may also not require quarantine after an exposure if your initial test was negative.

Additionally, please note that students are not integral to clinical patient care and must follow campus guidelines regardless of whether or not they are on a clinical rotation.

Management of COVID test positive students in the Dorm

If test-positive students are able to live elsewhere with family members or friends, they should leave the dorm for the time periods specified above.  If they must remain in the dorm, they should strictly adhere to self-isolation in their room and minimize the risk of exposing other students.

Contact Tracing for LSUHSC-NO Employees

Campus Health will encourage individuals who test positive for COVID-19 to notify their supervisors and identify other students or employees with whom they have had moderate-high-risk* contact in the 48 hours prior to their positive test.  Supervisors should facilitate the testing of any exposed individuals (vaccinated and unvaccinated) as soon as possible, and encourage them to test on day one, and then again five days after the exposure. LSUHSC-NO will not identify source patients in the process of notifying other employees about their potential exposure to COVID-19.  If possible, we should notify and quarantine campus contacts as soon as possible. 

* Moderate-high-risk -- close contact (within six feet) with the source employee/student for a total of >15 minutes over a 24-hour period regardless of mask use.

The Role of Supervisors in Control of COVID-19 on Campus

Prevention is the campus’ best defense against COVID.  Supervisors should encourage vaccination and adherence to preventive measures among their employees.  This includes proper wearing of masks and physical distancing.  Supervisors also play an important role in reducing spread if an employee is sick or tests positive.  Supervisors have the right to request proof of vaccination from the employees or students that they supervise in order to make decisions that promote campus safety.  Vaccination information should not be disclosed to other employees or students.

  • Survey the areas used by your group to evaluate risk of crowding that would violate six foot distancing especially during eating/drinking.
  • Maintain schedules of employees expected to be on campus.
  • Ensure the proper process for sick employees who could have COVID-19:
    • If an employee has any symptoms, ensure that they leave campus immediately, quarantine at home, and follow the recommendations above.
    • Call Campus Health (412-1995) if you have any questions about how to manage an ill employee.
    • If an employee tests positive, supervisor should:
       
      • Ensure that they leave campus immediately, quarantine at home, and follow the recommendations above.
      • Notify your employees that there has been an infected person in the area and remind them to strictly adhere to wearing masks, physical distancing and handwashing.  Do not divulge the name of the positive employee.
      • Attempt to identify other employees who had a moderate-high risk exposure in the 48 hours prior to the positive test (close contact < 6 feet, for more than 15 minutes, over a 24 hour period).  Individuals (vaccinated and unvaccinated) who have had moderate-to-high risk exposure should be tested immediately, and they should follow the recommendations above.
      • Notify other supervisors who share the floor, without divulging the name of the positive employee.  They, in turn, should remind their employees to strictly adhere to wearing masks, physical distancing and handwashing.

Please note that these guidelines will evolve as state and national recommendations change.