12.15.21: Update from the COVID Response Team

A message sent to members of the Lehigh community and Lehigh families. 

Dear Members of the Lehigh Community and Lehigh Families, 

This week as we near the completion of the fall term, case counts on campus are low, and we commend everyone’s efforts to support a healthy living, learning and working environment this semester. As next week will be the last weekly update from the COVID Response Team (CRT) before the new year, we also wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season. 


  • For those traveling over the holidays, we encourage you to be aware of any travel restrictions/requirements and the case counts in the areas where you will be traveling. 

  • The actions we take to mitigate the spread of COVID, such as washing our hands and wearing a mask, also protect against other illnesses. Stay home if you feel sick, get tested, and remember to continue to report any positive results to the university through the appropriate channels (for students, faculty and staff) over the winter break, even if your exposure to COVID did not occur on campus. 

  • Find more travel guidance on the COVID Information website


  • We previously shared that the CRT was assessing the possibility of requiring a COVID booster shot for those who are eligible, and we are continuing to monitor CDC and other health guidance. 

  • Given the waning effectiveness of vaccines over time and mounting evidence that boosters are important to protect people against the Omicron variant, we anticipate requiring the booster for all students, faculty and staff at some point early in the spring semester. The timing of this requirement will be decided based on regional case counts and the spread of the Omicron variant in the region; therefore, we strongly encourage you to get your booster if you are eligible over the winter break. Details describing how to provide information about booster status and deadlines will be provided soon. Read more below for more eligibility information.

  • Studies have shown that vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID, but vaccination protection against the virus and variants decreases over time. Unfortunately, many campuses across the country and especially in the northeast are currently seeing a significant rise in infections and have had to cancel gatherings, events, and even move final exams online. The Omicron variant is likely to be two to four times more infectious than the Delta variant. Boosters provide significantly enhanced protection over the standard vaccination regime. Widespread adoption of boosters will provide the best protection against COVID infection on our campus and support the safety of in-person instruction and activities as we begin a new semester together on campus in the spring. 

Booster Eligibility

  • Everyone 18 years and older and for whom it has been six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their initial J&J vaccine are eligible for a COVID booster. 

  • Teens 16–17 years old also can get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster.

  • The CDC offers more guidance on boosters on the CDC website and Vaccines.gov provides location information for COVID vaccines and boosters.

Mental Health

  • The holidays can be a source of joy, connection, and community, but they can also be a challenging time for some. If you need additional support, we encourage you to reach out.

  • Vice President for Student Affairs Ric Hall sent a message to students focused on mental health.  

  • Lehigh benefits for faculty and staff include behavioral (mental) health coverage. To access these services, call the number listed on the back of your Capital BlueCross card. More information regarding Lehigh employee benefits is available here.

COVID Testing Information

  • This week we continue mandatory testing of 100% of unvaccinated students, faculty and staff with approved medical and religious exemptions. 

  • In place of testing 10% of vaccinated students, this week we offered one-time optional testing for students before the break, as well as faculty and staff. 

  • See the surveillance testing schedule linked here for over the winter break and the start of the spring semester. 

Dashboard Update Frequency and Communications Schedule 

  • The Lehigh COVID Dashboard will continue to be updated daily this week.

  • Beginning Dec. 20 and continuing through Jan. 14 and the winter break, as in the past, the dashboard will be updated weekly on Mondays during the time that campus is de-densified. 

  • The dashboard will not be updated the week of Dec. 27; weekly dashboard updates will resume Jan. 3 in the new year. 

  • Daily dashboard updates will resume Jan. 17 for the spring semester. 

  • The COVID Response Team will continue to send weekly communication updates through the week of Dec. 20. 

  • There will NOT be a weekly communication the week of Dec. 27. 

  • Through Jan. 17, communications will be sent as needed up until the start of the spring semester. 

Thank you, and again, wishing you and your families a safe, happy and healthy holiday season. 

-COVID Response Team