How many LSU students and faculty used the COVID Symptom Checker last semester? Only 8%, according to the archives | New
About 8% of LSU students, faculty, and staff completed the university’s daily symptom checker on class days during the fall 2021 semester, records obtained by The Reveille show.
Use of the symptom checker also steadily declined as the fall semester dragged on. More than 10,000 LSU staff members used the checker on the first day of class, Aug. 23 — that number rarely topped 3,000 after the semester was halfway through October.
Excluding weekends, holidays, campus closures, and catch-up days, about 3,314 LSU students and employees on average used the symptom checker, or just 8% of the 39,000 students, faculty, and members university staff.
The university relies in part on daily symptom tracking of COVID-19 cases on campus. Students and employees were not required to respond to the survey each day for the last semester unless they received a positive COVID-19 test off-campus.
Students and employees were asked to complete the checker each day via email or text message. He asks attendees if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, then tells them if they should come to campus.
In previous semesters, LSU has placed staff at entrances to high-traffic buildings, like the Union and the Library, to check student QR codes included in the daily symptom checker. That practice was discontinued last semester due to the school’s high immunization rate, LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said.
“The purpose of the DSC in the 2021-2022 academic year is to help students and employees monitor their symptoms, allow individuals to report test results, and initiate the contact tracing process,” LSU wrote in response to a recording request. “In addition, the DSC is providing detailed instructions for people who test positive or who have come into close contact with someone who tests positive.”
Verifier completion will not be required this semester, raising concerns about the accuracy of the on-campus case count. Self-reporting via survey is one of two ways LSU tracks positive cases in the community, with the other method being positive tests at on-campus testing sites like the Student Health Center and the Student Union.
If students test positive off-campus or take a rapid test at home, there’s no guarantee they’ll report it to the university, and the positivity rate could be much higher than the COVID-19 dashboard suggests. USL. LSU will use the positivity rate to determine whether classes will take place in their original in-person format in two weeks, or remain online for faculty who have chosen to go virtual as Omicron spreads across Louisiana.
Health officials have said there are likely two to three times more COVID-19 cases in the state than officially reported, in part due to home testing and testing shortages.
If the campus positivity rate drops below 10% on February 1, faculty teaching online will revert to an in-person format.
Ballard pointed out that the symptom checker is one of many ways the university seeks to control the spread of the virus.
“The LSU Tigercheck system is one of many tools, along with entrance testing, sewage testing, monthly testing for the unvaccinated, wearing of masks, that the university has put in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Ballard said. “The LSU Tigercheck system is used for more than simple symptom monitoring. It is a comprehensive system that helps the university mitigate the spread of COVID.
Jen Cook, a first-year leadership and human resources development student, is one of the few students who regularly uses the daily symptom checker. She said she used it every day when she left her dorm.
“It’s really short and I feel like it helps reflect how many people are sick,” she said. “The more data a university has, the more informed decisions about public safety are. It’s a little addition to my morning walk to class that can help others.
Other students aren’t so sure. Lupe Estrada, a second-year sociology and criminology student, said she never used it.
“If it was based on how I feel every day, I wouldn’t have a day of classes,” she said.
Even when LSU required the Daily Symptom Checker, the app was loose.
“I haven’t filled out the form for over a week and literally nothing has happened,” LSU graduate student Anna Moody told Reveille in Fall 2020. “It’s unfortunate to know that there are no consequences.”
Gretchen Stein, associate dean at the College of Science, said she uses it every day “just to be a good academic citizen,” but said she never understood the point of it.