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Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)


As of 11/26/2020, LSCO has had 62 confirmed cases within the Gator community since the pandemic began in March. There are 12 confirmed active cases.

Gator Respect Statement
Face Covering Policy

Emergency Financial Aid Funds

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act application period has closed. All applicants will be notified of their award status no later than May 29, 2020. For more information, see how LSCO distributed the emergency financial aid funds.

STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT THOMAS JOHNSON REGARDING COVID-19

November 3, 2020

Good afternoon, Gator family. 

It is hard to believe we are on the 3rd day of November already! Although this year has brought so many challenges, we have steadily marched through it day by day as a team.

As we move into our last weeks of on-site instruction for the fall semester, I want to take a moment to tell you all how incredibly proud I am of our college. You have risen to every challenge thrown at you this year with remarkable tenacity, determination, and perseverance.

Below is a brief campus update; 

Hurricanes Laura and Delta

We continue working with contractors to repair the damage our campus received from both Hurricane Laura and Delta. We are hopeful all repairs will be completed by the start of the Spring semester. Our lawn maintenance team has done an exceptional job saving as many of our beautiful trees as possible.  

COVID-19

Although the national and state COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the last several weeks, we are experiencing fewer numbers within our Gator community. Currently we have one active case, with a total of forty-seven known positive cases since the pandemic began.

Thank you for continuing to do your part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 on our campus. Please continue to practice social distancing and comply with the mandatory face-covering guidelines while on our campus and, if you do not feel well, please do not come to campus. Keeping each other safe is the right thing to do. I want to thank Patty Collins who has worked so diligently since day one to keep us safe and in compliance as well as serving as our point of contact during this pandemic.

Let’s Celebrate

Two of our LSCO Fishing Club anglers participated in the B.A.S.S. National Championship last week. Brett Fregia and Jack Tindel, III, traveled to Leesburg, Florida, and fished a two-day qualifying round to fish in the final championship round. On day two, our Gators were sitting in second place out of 118 teams and earned a spot in the championship round on Saturday. We are so proud of these two young men and their representation of our college. In the first year of its existence, the LSCO Gator Fishing Club is number nine in the nation!   

Trent Buchholz and Grady Doucet will join Fregia and Tindel in March of next year at the FLW National Championship tournament. LSCO will have two teams competing for a national championship and representing our college at a national event. 

These anglers are competing against huge 4-year institutions across the nation and continue to post excellent numbers. We are Gator Proud of our Fishing Club members as well as Thera Celestine, Captain Horner, Denisha Keszeg and all those who help our program throughout the year.

Thanksgiving Luncheon

Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, we will not get to enjoy our annual Thanksgiving luncheon this year at the Brown Estate. Instead, we will be giving each employee a turkey to enjoy with your family.

Stephanie will soon be sending out an email that will issue special tickets for you to stop by HEB in Orange and pick up your turkey. My wish is that you can enjoy a safe and healthy Thanksgiving meal with your family.

A Parting Note

I am forever grateful for the amazing team at Lamar State College Orange. You are the reason we have faced the challenges of 2020 head-on and have overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles that were placed in front of us.

As always, your leadership team is here to serve you, our faculty, staff, and students. Please contact Mary, Wendy, Patty, or me if you have any questions or concerns.

Your humble servant,

Tom

Good afternoon, Gator family.

We are only into Tuesday; however, because this has already been an eventful week of challenges, I decided to write my regular update a few days early to keep you informed.  These events include Hurricane Delta, additional COVID-19 cases, our Fall enrollment, and a good weekend for our Fishing Club.

Hurricane Delta

First, please review the most current information from Storm Geo regarding Hurricane Delta:

Within the past hour, a reconnaissance plane inside Delta has found winds to 130 mph, which makes Delta a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Delta remains a very small hurricane. Its core of strongest winds is only about 100 miles across. Though we do expect Delta to grow in size a little after it impacts the Yucatan Peninsula tonight, Delta should remain [in terms of the area it covers] a smaller-than-average hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico up until landfall early Saturday morning.

A look at the latest model runs from this morning indicates that a landfall on the middle Louisiana coast seems most likely. However, we think that there may be a slight trend toward a landfall on the western side of Vermilion Bay rather than the central or east side of the bay. We may make a slight westward adjustment in the landfall point in our 3 PM advisory, perhaps up to 15 miles west of the landfall point in the 9 AM advisory. We will make that decision after all of the morning model guidance is in, which will be around 2 PM CDT.

Models still indicate that Delta will be weakening starting on Friday morning as the hurricane turns north then north-northeastward toward the Gulf Coast. There remains considerable uncertainty as to how much the increasing wind shear and cooler water near the coast will cause Delta to weaken prior to landfall. Max sustained winds at landfall in Louisiana could be anywhere between 85 mph and 125 mph. We won't be confident in the final landfall intensity until Friday afternoon or evening when we can observe how the wind shear is affecting Delta's structure and intensity. (Storm Geo discussion)

Please continue to monitor the forecasts you receive from Patty, and be prepared to act in self-preservation if necessary. Our Gator family’s safety is of paramount importance. Let me or the other members of your leadership team know if you need something, please.

COVID-19

In another safety-related issue of grave concern, in the past two days, five new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed on campus. The local health department has been notified, and they are performing the necessary contact tracing. The health department will notify anyone who was in contact with those who have tested positive.  Our custodial staff has already enacted a deep-cleaning protocol in the areas on campus where the confirmed cases were known to have visited, and are also continuing the upgraded cleaning procedures in place since the pandemic began.

As a preventative measure, I am strongly urging everyone to set an example of social and personal responsibility for our students and for each other. Follow social distancing and mandatory face-covering guidelines while on our campus and, if you do not feel well, please do not come to campus. Keeping each other safe is the right thing to do. 

Also, I want to thank Patty Collins for her leadership as our Coronavirus coordinator/liaison during these trying times.  She has been our point of contact, fielding questions, addressing concerns, consulting with the System office attorney, reporting numbers, and working with the local department of health, as well as ensuring both reactive and precautionary measures are taken in this ongoing pandemic. She does this incredibly difficult and thankless task with the utmost grace and dignity.

Enrollment

As of today our enrollment for Fall stands at:

Total Headcount - 2019: 2,395; 2020: 2,386 (-0.4%) see note 1 below

Total Contact Hours - 2019: 442,368; 2020: 426,912 (-3.5%) see note 2 below

Total Credit Hours - 2019: 21,186; 2020: 20,887 (-1.4%)

(THECB Certified Total Headcount for Fall 2019 was 2,395)

Notes:

    1. Most of our dual credit students now declare a major and are now counted in with our traditional students instead of just being listed as dual credit on enrollment updates. Fortunately, the number of dual credit students is up by nearly 150 from last Fall. 
    2. LSCO is funded on our Contact Hours, not on headcount.   While our contact hours are down -3.5%, we are fortunate that our strong Summer numbers will help blunt our negative Fall numbers. This is critical since we are in a base year that will determine our funding for the next biennium.

The Bright Side

On a positive note, two of our LSCO Fishing Club anglers have qualified for the FLW National Championship next March. Brett Fregia and Jack Tindel placed 11th in the FLW Tournament on the Ouachita River on Friday, October 2. Fregia’s and Tindel’s winning weigh-in was 9 pounds, 7 ounces.

Two other LSCO anglers, Trent Buchholz and Grady Doucet, had already qualified for the FLW National Championship. They also fished on the Ouachita River and placed 20th. Their total weight was 7 pounds, 12 ounces.

Fregia and Tindel will also compete in the B.A.S.S. National Championship later this month in Leesburg, Florida. The two qualified for that championship earlier this year.

To say we are proud of these anglers is an understatement!  To qualify teams for national championship tournaments in their first year is incredible.  We are very proud of our Fishing Gators!

A Parting Note

In closing, we are (and have been) facing some challenging times, but I have full confidence that we can power through this if we all work together. Let’s do what’s necessary to get through these unfortunate events, celebrate the good news when we can, and focus on a better tomorrow.

As always, your leadership team is here to serve you, our faculty, staff, and students.  Please contact Mary, Wendy, Patty, or me if you have any questions or concerns.

Your humble servant,

Tom

Good afternoon, Gators!

I hope this email finds you and your family safe and healthy as we begin the semester. 

What a blessing it is to see excited students back on our campus. As I have taken my daily walks around campus, I have engaged with students. To hear their excitement and passion gives me great joy! Many have said that being back in class provides them a level of normalcy and social interaction they greatly missed.

It is clear, you, our faculty and staff, are providing the support and encouragement that our students need more than ever. Several students have reached out to me regarding a multitude of challenges they have faced in the past several months. These students are sharing how you are helping them tear down barriers on their quest for a degree or certificate.

The last twelve months has been challenging to say the least. We started Fall 2019 with Tropical Storm Imelda; we kicked off the Spring 2020 semester with much anticipation of a semester without interruption and quickly encountered a worldwide pandemic, which we are still dealing with on a daily basis both on and off campus with no definitive culmination in sight. Now, we have started Fall 2020 with Hurricane Laura and the threat of Tropical Storm Beta. While these events have damaged homes and buildings, displaced members of our Gator community, and have caused us to grieve over the loss of co-workers, family, and friends, they have not broken our Gator Spirit. Working together we are providing hope and opportunity as well as generating much needed light and optimism in our community. There is something magnificent about the human spirit that drives us forward to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

You continue to display strength, courage, and determination like none other I have known. Thank you for your servant heart and passion for educating our students in these trying times. Yes, there will be many more challenges this semester but together we will continue our mission of transforming lives. I am so humbled and honored to be a part of this Gator family. The future is bright Orange!

Your humble servant,

Tom

Good morning, Gators!

I hope that this email finds you and your family safe and healthy. I have enjoyed seeing our campus atmosphere somewhat return to normal. On my daily campus walks, it has been a joy to talk with many of you and the students, and witness eagerness to begin our fall semester.

Currently, I am traveling to the quarterly Texas State University System Board of Regents meeting. I can assure you the wonderful efforts you have made this year will be part of my briefing to the Chancellor and Regents. Also, I am so excited to be welcoming faculty back as we kick off our fall semester with Convocation next week.

Your diligence, determination, and perseverance throughout the last four and half months have not gone unnoticed. I asked that you continue exhibiting these strong Gator characteristics as we enter into a fall semester that will surely be different than anything we have known before.

The staff has been working diligently to prepare for social distancing in the classrooms, installing hand sanitizing stations throughout the campus, and creating schedules that will allow our students back on campus in a safe and healthy manner.

Our Fall numbers are still significantly down; however, we have another week and a half before the semester starts. We should all be doing everything we can to attract students to our college.

The coming year will be challenging due to COVID-19 and legislative budget restraints, but enrollment growth could be our silver lining. Together we can achieve great things as we strive toward our mission of transforming lives.

As always, your Leadership Team is here to support you. Please let us know if we can be of service to you.

Your humble servant,

Tom

Good afternoon Gators!

Here we are – in our last week of Phase II-A of our Return to Campus Plan. I am incredibly grateful to each of you for following the guidelines we have set out to maintain safety and reduce the spread of the virus on our campus.

As you read in Dr. Elmore’s email earlier this week, we move on to Phase III of our Return to Campus Plan on Monday, July 20. I look forward to a bit more normalcy as all buildings on campus will be open, and we will return to regular business hours and our business attire.

We are certainly not out of this pandemic, and we are still asking everyone to be cautious and follow the protocols lined out in the Return to Campus and as indicated by the CDC. Because of this, we have determined that there is no safe way to hold an August commencement ceremony in person. We will again host a virtual graduation ceremony. At this time, it is the safest way to honor and recognize our graduates. Please read Dr. Elmore’s email with more details about the virtual ceremony and how you can participate in the video.

You can also be part of our Fall 2020 recruitment campaign as we work to roll our summer success over to another semester. Our Fall numbers are significantly down right now, but we realize we have another month before the semester starts. We should all be doing everything we can to attract students to our college.

With that said, we have some difficult decisions ahead concerning a myriad of cost reductions the Governor has requested. I encourage each of you to look at ways to reduce costs within your department and bring any new ideas to your supervisor.

Your leadership team is working diligently to do our best with this challenging situation. I have shared with the Chancellor on more than one occasion how incredibly proud I am of the hard-working, dedicated, determined, and passionate individuals I get to work with every day. We are indeed the beautiful campus on the Sabine, where hope meets opportunity.

Your humble servant,

Tom

Good morning, Gators.

As we all know, our state has seen a dramatic increase in COVID cases during the past two weeks.  In his press conference this week, Governor Abbott closed bars and took additional steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Jefferson County Judge Branick has extended his order to make masks mandatory in businesses. A similar direction may be issued from our City or County officials. It is with a spirit of hope that I ask that we continue following the CDC Guidelines, including proper handwashing and sanitizing and following social distancing protocols.

After consulting with other college presidents and our leadership team, I have found a consensus that we should not end Phase II of our Return to Campus Plan on July 3.  After much thought and deliberation, we will extend Phase II for an additional two weeks.  As such, Phase III will start on July 20 and will have us returning to regular days and hours of operation.  We are proud of our Gator Community’s efforts to fight this virus; however, we feel we need to do more.  Effective Monday, July 6, LSCO will implement a mandatory face-covering requirement for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors. 

Later today, Patty Collins, Executive Director of College Affairs, will be sending out the full details of the modified Return to Campus Plan and Face Covering Policy.  We will also extend casual dress until July 20.

To end on a positive note, it is with a grateful heart that I say congratulations and best wishes to Butch Campbell on his retirement.  Butch has been an essential part of our LSCO campus for 44 years!  His contributions to LSCO are endless, including serving as a faculty member in our Physical Education department and starting a water-skiing team (we have pictures to prove it).  Butch has spent countless hours serving LSCO and our community; his two Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Awards are testament to his servant heart.  Not only has his marvelous BBQ sustained us all through many a hungry lunch hour, but he has also worked diligently to protect our faculty, staff, and students in his current role as Director of Security.  Please join me in wishing him many happy, healthy retirement years. 

Your humble servant,

Tom

Good morning, Gators!

By now, you have seen the exciting news that we are offering two free classes this summer to all students that follow the directions on our website. I hope you will spread the news to your students, family, friends, neighbors, and everyone! This is truly an incredible opportunity for us to increase contact hours as we start a new base year, and those contact hours play a significant role in determining our state funding.

We realize these free classes will put a lot of work on Admissions, Advising, and Financial Aid, so I encourage you to answer as many questions as you can from your students and the community. We have a wonderful list of Frequently Asked Questions available on our website for you to read and share. If you are not sure of an answer, please refer questions to any of the three offices mentioned above. We want the correct information to go out.

The incredible work you did in the Spring 2020 semester is evidence of your hard work, determination, and commitment to our Gator community. I am asking that you continue to show that Gator spirit to the many new students we have enrolled in our Summer I and II classes. We hope that students taking advantage of the free summer classes will have an excellent experience that leads them to want to take more courses at LSCO this Fall.

I hope you have had the time to read our Return to Campus Plan that was sent out last week. Many offices will begin being fully staffed next week. All employees should check-in as I do each morning at the Library for screening before reporting to their building/office. Screeners are in place by 7:00 am. Please be sure to read the guidelines in the Campus Plan, including what to do if you have any symptoms related to COVID-19.

Although we have many things to celebrate at LSCO, the reality of the economy in Texas and across the nation is apparent. As a State agency, our funding is largely provided by the State of Texas. In a recent letter from Governor Greg Abbott, he urged "state agencies and institutions of higher education to pursue cost-saving strategies that will not affect the state's response to COVID-19, such as forgoing capital expenditures that can be deferred, any avoidable travel expenditures, any administrative expenses that are not mission critical, and keeping unfilled any open positions that are not essential to Texas' COVID-19 response." The Governor also requires each agency to submit a plan identifying savings that will reduce appropriations by five percent for the 2020-2021 biennium.

Your leadership team is working diligently to ensure the financial health and well-being of LSCO and its employees. We are hopeful that our cost-saving measures and increased student enrollment will keep our college on the right path as we move forward.

Let us all continue to focus on achieving our vision and mission while carrying out our values every day. This is what makes LSCO Gator Strong!

Your humble servant,

Tom 

Dear Gator Family,

I hope this finds you safe and healthy. I’m sure many of you watched Governor Greg Abbott’s press conference on Monday afternoon. You may be wondering what that means for LSCO. As we have said from day one, our top priority is the safety and health of the Gator family. Because of the sacrifices, determination, and diligence you have displayed, LSCO is fully operational with a limited number of people on campus and others working virtually. For that reason, we will not make hasty decisions about returning faculty, staff, or students to our campus. The leadership team is working diligently to develop a phased approach for returning our campus to full operations in a face-to-face environment. Details about the complete plan will be distributed in the coming weeks. 

For now, the first phase will begin on Monday, May 11, when we allow a limited number of technical hands-on classes to return to campus. These classes will strictly follow CDC, State, and Local health protocols. A few of those protocols include a maximum of ten people (9 students and 1 instructor) per class, health screening before entering the class, a requirement to wear a face mask (or program appropriate face covering), maintaining proper social distancing, and continued stringent cleaning and disinfecting after each instructional lab setting. We believe this is the best decision for our students in these hands-on courses. This decision will allow them to safely complete their courses and continue to move forward with their education. Any student who is unable or feels uncomfortable returning to class right away will be given an “incomplete” until the remaining course components can be completed. Dr. Elmore will be announcing the complete schedule of technical hands-on courses that will be resuming on May 11 by the end of the week.

I am asking each of you to stay strong, safe, and healthy. We will get through these unusual and challenging times. Your dedication and hard work have not gone unnoticed, and I am so grateful to be an LSCO Gator.

Your leadership team is here to serve you; please do not hesitate to reach out to Wendy, Mary, Patty, or myself if you have any questions. We may not have an answer, but we are happy to discuss the matter with you.

Your humble servant,

Tom

Dear Gator Family,

As the COVID-19 public health crisis continues to unfold, every day brings new challenges and guidance.  Our LSCO administration has been tirelessly consulting available resources to make decisions that are in the best interest of the health and welfare of our Gator family.

Our local, state, and federal officials continue to provide guidance on slowing the spread of COVID-19 and encouraging everyone to do their part.  As many of you are aware, the majority of our faculty and staff are working remotely, with only those employees whose job functions must be performed in person remaining on campus.  These functions include keeping the campus safe, protecting against loss or undue hardship to our campus community, and maintaining business continuity.

LSCO will take the following steps to further mitigate potential exposure of COVID-19 and its impact on our Gator faculty and staff:

  • The campus will be open to individuals with an LSCO ID, current and prospective students, and approved contractors.
  • Certain offices with limited student/public engagement will be operating 100% remotely.
  • Multiple buildings on campus will be closed and staff will be shifted to other buildings or will work remotely.  This will allow for a thorough cleaning and sanitation of these building, as well as conserving energy on our campus. Those buildings include;
    • Wilson Building
    • Workforce Education Building
    • Shahan Events Center
    • Stark Nursing Classroom Building
    • Student Center
    • Brown Estate
    • Welding Building
    • Industrial Technology Building
  • Effective Monday, April 6, open offices will be staffed from 8:00am – 2:00pm Monday thru Thursday, with the remaining hours of the workweek being performed remotely where feasible. The adjusted work schedule will remain in effect until further notice.
  • We will continue vigorous cleaning routines for common spaces/touch points, including door handles, elevator buttons, and areas of shared usage, such as restrooms and computer labs.
  • The campus will continue to follow strict social distancing guidelines as recommended by the CDC.

The leadership team continues to be amazed by the creative and unique ways each department has developed to continue to serve our students and protect the health and safety of our campus.  Your dedication and devotion to LSCO is sincerely appreciated.

Your humble servant,

Tom

 

 

Dear Gator Family,

We understand that COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to be a major concern for many of you. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with each of you as we make our way through this difficult and challenging time. We are continuing to act in order to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community.

While we are facing these challenging and uncertain times, LSCO remains committed to our students’ success and our mission of transforming lives and communities through academic, professional, and personal excellence. As your president, I want you to be aware of the responsive changes that have been put into place on campus, including: 

CDC Guidelines: LSCO continues to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state, and local authorities regarding telecommuting, social distancing, careful hygiene practices, and facility cleaning and maintenance. Although the campus remains operational, faculty and staff are encouraged to work with their supervisors to determine if their responsibilities will allow them to flex and/or telecommute. Custodial staff are regularly disinfecting campus workspaces. 

Future Classes: With the continued growing concern over the spread of COVID-19, we have moved to a flexible learning environment starting on March 30. We understand a limited number of lab or hands-on courses will still need to be conducted on-campus; however, these courses will not begin until April 13, unless further changes are required. Our faculty is working diligently to help students complete this semester. Students will receive specific details via Blackboard about the future mode in which their class will be offered from faculty within the next few days. Instructors will provide details and work with students to complete the required contact hours for each course. 

Online Instructional Methods: Our Distance Learning Department is assisting the faculty to ensure they have the resources to deliver their courses online or in a virtual format. Our faculty are supporting one another through these challenging times, sharing resources, techniques, and software that will ensure our students receive the quality education they expect from our college. LSCO faculty and staff are committed to assisting students through this transition and have resources available to anyone who is unfamiliar with how to access and navigate online classes. 

Student Services: The Department of Student Services is operational and available to assist students throughout the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester and beyond. Student Services is transitioning to an online or remote format to continue to meet student needs through Advising, Admissions, and Financial Aid. Spring Mini, Summer, and Fall 2020 registration will continue as planned and will begin on April 1. Students are encouraged to complete class registration online through Banner Self Service in Blackboard. The Advising Center is available to new and current students. Students can schedule a remote advising session appointment with an Advisor. To schedule an online appointment please contact the Advising Center at advising@lsco.edu or at (409) 882-3340. More information on course registration can be found on our Online Registration website page. 

Learning Center & Library: The Learning Center and Library remain available to assist students during this crisis. Students can contact the Learning Center at (409) 882-3373 or http://www.lsco.edu/learningcenter/learningcenter.asp and the Library at (409) 882-3352 or http://library.lsco.edu/. 

Staff & Student Workers:  Campus operations will proceed with the college remaining open. Supervisors are encouraged to allow staff to flex and/or telecommute until further notice if their job duties allow. Student workers should also follow guidance from their supervisors. Human Resources has created a Flexible Work Arrangement form that needs to be completed prior to allowing staff to telecommute. 

Travel: All non-essential college-sponsored travel has been canceled through May 31. Travel after May 31 will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All domestic travel prior to May 31 deemed essential for continuity of business operations must be approved by the Provost/Executive Vice President and the Vice President of Finance and Business Operations. For personal travel, we urge you to carefully consider intended destinations and check on restrictions or quarantine measures that may be recommended by the CDC. Guidance regarding travel can be found on the COVID-19 section of our website. 

Commencement Ceremony:  In accordance with Governor Abbott’s office and the CDC’s recommendations, LSCO has suspended all events through the end of May. Unfortunately, this includes the commencement ceremony scheduled for May 15. While Commencement is one of the most exciting events of the year, it is in the best interest of our students and their families to postpone this event. We invite our Spring graduates to participate in the August commencement ceremony. Students scheduled to graduate in May will still have their degrees conferred with May’s date, but the commencement ceremony will be postponed. Following the degree confirmation, diplomas will be mailed to the students. More information about the Commencement Ceremony will be provided at a later date. 

Physical and Mental Health: We are always concerned about the physical and mental health and well-being of our community. Students can locate a list of resources on our website at http://www.lsco.edu/advising/counseling.asp. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for employees and can be contacted at (800) 324-4327.

 Your humble servant,

 Tom Johnson

 

Video Source: CBC News

 

Updates will be provided on the coronavirus as they become available.

Please see the following for more information:

Travel Advisory: Click here for U.S. Department of State
What are the symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

  • For the vast majority of people who have had the illness, symptoms were mild (like a cold or flu) and they resolved after several days. Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat.

Where can I find updated information?

  • Department of State Health Services updates, visit here.
  • Information from the CDC about the 2019-nCoV virus, visit here.
  • Additional information from the CDC, visit here.