Spring semester begins amidst surge of omicron cases


Brynn Lundy

A Southeastern student receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a nursing student during an on-campus pop-up vaccine event in the Spring 2021 semester.

Amidst the backdrop of the most contagious variant of COVID-19 to date, the university has begun its Spring 2022 semester. 

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has led to the state of Louisiana continuously setting records for new cases and hospitalizations. On Jan. 18, Louisiana surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases after an additional 29,125 were reported by the Louisiana Department of Health

LDH also reported that Louisiana’s positivity rate is 27.5% as of Jan. 19 and that the omicron variant comprised 97% of new infections between Jan. 1 and 12.  

The CDC has dictated that Tangipahoa Parish is an area of high community transmission as of Jan. 19 and recommends that everyone wears a mask in public indoor settings. 

In a recent statement, Gov. John Bel Edwards lamented the milestone of 1 million cases surpassed. 

“We know that because cases are underreported, in reality many more people in Louisiana have had COVID at some point in the past 22 months. And, while we are looking for early signs that this current omicron surge is letting up, we still have far too many sick people in our state and far too many people in our hospitals with COVID,” Edwards said

Edwards has strayed away from reinstating a statewide mask mandate for a third time. 

Despite the lack of a statewide mask mandate, Southeastern has kept its campus-wide masking requirement in place. 

In an email to faculty and students, Southeastern President John Crain encouraged everyone to comply with the policy. 

As previously shared, for the time being we will continue the indoor mask requirement that was in place last semester. I urge everyone to strictly comply with this requirement as a meaningful step we all can easily take to help safeguard each other,” Crain said. 

Crain also encouraged faculty and students to wear N95 and KN95 masks if possible, citing recently updated CDC guidance. He reiterated that wearing surgical masks and cloth masks is still allowed and that all masks offer some degree of protection. 

The university has also taken additional measures to combat the current surge of the omicron variant. 

All campus events and activities are restricted to meetings only until Jan. 28, according to an email sent to student leaders by the Dean of Students office. Student organizations are encouraged to host virtual meetings throughout the surge of cases and are strongly discouraged from serving food during meetings. 

For additional updates on the university’s response to the omicron surge, check lionsroarnews.com.