12.21.21: Boosters, Illness Over Break and Reporting Positive COVID Tests

A message sent to Lehigh students and families

Dear Students and Lehigh Families,

As members of our community travel home to gather with family and friends for the holidays, the appearance of the Omicron variant across the U.S. and higher rates of transmission have increased the risk of COVID infection, regardless of vaccination status. 

We encourage the following actions over winter break to support a successful start to the spring semester: 

  • If you are eligible for a COVID booster, please get one over the winter break. Lehigh anticipates requiring the booster for all students, faculty and staff at some point early in the spring semester, and we strongly encourage you to get one sooner rather than later if you are eligible. 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. Boosters provide significantly enhanced protection over the standard vaccination regime. 
  • If you become ill during the winter break, please be sure to get a COVID test and submit any positive results to the Patient Portal. The Omicron variant is highly contagious and reports indicate that its symptoms can be similar to the common cold. If you have any symptoms, even if you are vaccinated and/or don’t believe you have been exposed to the virus, please get tested for COVID. Knowing whether or not you have COVID allows you to take the proper precautions and prevent the spread of the virus to others who may be more vulnerable to severe illness. In addition, reporting a positive test enables us to exempt you from mandatory surveillance testing at the start of the spring semester. It is possible to test positive for COVID for up to 90 days after contracting the virus. If you contract COVID over the break and do not submit a positive test result, you may test positive on a surveillance test and will be required to isolate upon your return to campus.   

If you test positive for COVID within 10 days of your scheduled return to campus, do not return to campus until your required isolation period has ended. Isolation should last at least 10 days (the duration of the infective period) from the time symptoms first appear or, in the case of an individual who has a positive test but has not had any symptoms, 10 days from the date that they were tested. 

We hope the winter break is a time of rest and rejuvenation for all. Please do everything you can to stay safe and healthy, and we look forward to seeing you back on campus in January. 

--The Health and Wellness Center Team