Dear Lehigh students and families,
With the start of the semester less than two weeks away, we hope the extended break afforded students the opportunity to refresh and recharge and that you are looking forward to the spring ahead, as we are.
Last week, students received information about the pre-semester and arrival requirements as well as the current conditions and protocols for the start of the semester for those who will be living in the Bethlehem area.
New campus status page - We have also created a new page that outlines an at-a-glance look at the current level of campus access, which we will update over the course of the semester as conditions change. Please bookmark this page and save it to reference along with the refreshed COVID dashboard that lists testing results as well as the cases on and off campus.
Following the health and safety protocols that we established as a community remains critical to staying healthy and maintaining an open, safe campus.
New quarantine protocol - During the spring semester, students living in residence halls whose permanent residence is within 150 miles of campus will be strongly encouraged to quarantine at home if able to travel by private vehicle. This change will allow us to avoid exceeding the capacity of our campus quarantine space and reduce the impact on other students in the residence halls. If a student is concerned about spreading the virus to a vulnerable family member or has extenuating circumstances that prevent them from returning home, the university will continue to allow them to quarantine on campus. The university’s isolation and quarantine policy has been updated to reflect this change.
From the fall data, we know that spikes in Lehigh cases and the number of students requiring quarantine largely stemmed from exposures originating off campus in informal settings. These were tied to both larger gatherings and intimate gatherings as small as two people. So, while guidelines such as limits on the size of gatherings can help prevent superspreading, exposure to the virus can also happen when we are doing our best to follow health and safety recommendations. Wearing a face covering and social distancing remain critical to preventing coming into close contact with, and contracting the virus from, someone who tested positive.
As in the fall, the pandemic presents us with a constantly changing environment. New COVID variants that are likely to be more contagious have been detected. These variants may require all of us to be more vigilant with our work to reduce the spread of the virus. We also encourage students to talk to each other about what they are doing to keep safe. If you know what the people with whom you are interacting are doing, you will be able to determine whether you are comfortable with the risks that they are taking.
We hope this information is helpful and instructive for what you can do to keep yourself safe. More information is available on the Lehigh COVID-19 Information website and the resources below.
Nathan Urban, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
David Rubenstein, Psy.D.
Executive Director, Health and Wellness Center