1.28.22: 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,

We hope this first week of classes has gone well for all, and that the return to campus has been smooth for our students. Arrival testing for students is wrapping up and current COVID case counts remain manageable. We look forward to the weeks ahead as we shift to more in-person activities and interactions. Thank you in advance for your continued cooperation as we navigate a new semester and keep our community safe and healthy while managing COVID as a part of daily life.

Campus Status

Next week, campus operations will return to the usual status as described on the campus status page, including in-person classes and dining. Provost Urban provided further guidance to faculty and instructors for supporting students as the transition to in-person instruction occurs. As they did last semester, faculty and instructors will monitor active COVID case counts in their classes via a dashboard. If more than 30% of students in a class have active cases, faculty have the option of shifting to remote instruction until cases in that class fall below the 30% threshold. Faculty and instructors will communicate with students about any change in course delivery.

Masks continue to be required indoors in all public spaces (worn properly over the mouth and nose, and preferably a high-quality mask such as a KN-95). Additionally, as a reminder, masks must be worn at all times on Lehigh buses and transportation, and may not be removed for eating. This policy protects our bus drivers and all passengers, and we appreciate your cooperation. For meetings and gatherings, please keep in mind the guidelines for providing food, also included below in response to questions we’ve been receiving.

Surveillance testing resumes Monday, as noted in further detail below.

Faculty and Staff Mask Purchasing

Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, the university has made available supplies of high-quality masks in the residence halls for students who are isolating and quarantining, as well as in highly frequented campus areas, such as the fitness centers. Offices and departments looking to order a supply of masks can now order surgical masks at no charge via the Purchasing website. To facilitate processing, we encourage an individual department member to submit an order for the desired delivery date.

Departments in need of additional PPE or cleaning supplies are encouraged to explore the below sources. To aid the university in reporting on these purchases, please use account code 72140 (COVID PPE Supplies) on your requisition.

  • WB Mason: In addition to standard office supplies, our WB Mason catalog is offering a wide selection of items: masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and more. If you do not currently have a Unimarket account and need access to this catalog, please contact inepro@lehigh.edu.

  • Scientific Suppliers: Fisher Scientific and VWR’s Unimarket catalogs continue to offer PPE items (gloves, masks, face shields, sanitizer) at our contracted prices.

  • Amazon Business: This business-oriented Amazon marketplace has a dedicated gateway to “Stock Up on PPE” and provides two-day Prime shipping on most Amazon-fulfilled items. If you need assistance accessing or completing your invitation, please contact inepro@lehigh.edu.

Food at Meetings

When case counts are high, wearing a high-quality and well-fitting mask is important for preventing the spread of the virus, and we encourage meeting and event organizers to assess the risk level at a given time as part of their planning. As shared on the Campus Status page, eating during the course of an indoor meeting, event or gathering is permitted, but ONLY during a non-essential portion. Food should only be provided during a part of the meeting that is optional. Please keep in mind that some participants will not be comfortable eating in a shared space. This should not limit their ability to participate fully in the meeting, and no one should feel pressure to participate in a part of a meeting or social gathering during which others are eating.

Eating during the course of an indoor meeting, event or gathering is permitted:

  • ONLY during a non-essential portion of the meeting, event or gathering that participants can miss if they prefer not to eat in a room with others (for example, after a meeting has officially ended or during a break)

  • NOT during a mandatory or essential portion of the meeting, event or gathering

  • ONLY when participants can maintain a reasonable distance while eating

Eating and drinking during class remain prohibited, as classes are a mandatory activity requiring participation for the duration of the meeting period.

Vault PCR Surveillance Testing Begins Jan. 31

Beginning the week of Jan. 31 and continuing through the week of Feb. 21, we will be conducting mandatory surveillance testing of 100% of the undergraduate and graduate student population (including those who are fully vaccinated), with 50% of the student population being selected for testing each week. All undergraduate and graduate students accessing campus in the spring semester should expect to be selected twice for this mandatory testing during this four-week period unless they have tested positive for COVID in the past 90 days and reported their results to the HWC. Students are required to make and keep all testing appointments when notified of their selection.

If You Test Positive for COVID

Students, faculty and staff who test positive must report their positive tests and follow the directions provided for isolating and/or quarantining (Lehigh is following the CDC guidelines).

Students- Submit any positive results to the Patient Portal. 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 and do not submit a positive test result, you may test positive on a surveillance test and will be required to isolate.

Faculty/staff- Follow the advice of your primary care physician and notify the university’s LVHN Employee Health Nurse Case Manager, Christine Wolfe, RN, at Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org or 610-861-8080 ext. 23504. Christine serves as the key point of contact for Lehigh employees for any health concerns related to COVID-19. She facilitates care through recovery and return to work for any employees who suspect exposure or may test positive for COVID-19, working closely with Lehigh Human Resources throughout the process. Christine must clear you for your return to work, and she will do so depending on your particular condition and using the most updated CDC guidance at the time.

Further Reading and Resources

-COVID Response Team