New Orleans-area universities find unique ways to resume in-person classes this fall

Tulane University has started building 13 temporary classrooms on campus in an effort to allow students to receive in-person instruction while still social distancing.

Chief Operating Officer Patrick Norton told WDSU that each structure will be able to house 50 to 80 students at a time. He said each student will be spaced 6 feet apart.

“These will be operational classrooms and will allow for the faculty to teach, we believe, in a safe way to students,” said Norton.

He added that the temporary classrooms are state-of-the-art.

“They’re not tents,” said Norton. “They’re temporary structures that will have an HVAC. It will have a fair amount of technology in it too.”

School officials are also building a dining pavilion, which can house about 300 students at one time while maintaining social distancing.

Norton said move-in procedures will also change. Students will now report downtown to an arrival center at a local hotel or other venue, where they will be tested for COVID-19.

“The results should be back within 24 hours,” said Norton. “If they’re negative, they can move into campus.”

He said if a student tests positive, they will quarantine and then be tested routinely until their results come back negative.

Loyola University also plans to test students who have symptoms of coronavirus. President Tania Tetlow said a partnership with Ochsner Health will make that possible.

The university is also changing its curriculum for the fall semester.

“We basically need to abandon our smallest classrooms, so we’re putting seminars in bigger rooms where we can spread out,” said Tetlow. “We’re teaching courses in shifts and to make room for all of that, we both spread the classes out timing wise, and about a third of them will be taught fully online.”

Classes start at Loyola on Aug. 24.

Students return to campus at Tulane on Aug. 19.

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