2.22.21: Fall 2021 Update for Students and Families

A message sent to Lehigh students and families.

Dear Lehigh Students and Families,

During this challenging semester, we are looking forward with a sense of optimism to Fall 2021. With the prospect of widespread vaccinations for COVID, we anticipate that infection rates will be significantly lower. This allows us to plan for the restoration of a more typical Lehigh experience with in-person classes, traditional housing, social interactions, cultural activities and events. Below we’ve outlined some of our initial planning assumptions.

Classes and Academic Work:

We anticipate the fall semester will begin as planned on August 23 for undergraduate and graduate students and that classes will be primarily in person. We intend to build on what we have learned regarding remote teaching and will incorporate technology and remote learning where appropriate.

Student Housing:

A robust residential experience has long been an important part of the Lehigh undergraduate student experience. We are planning for on-campus housing similar to the system that was in place pre-pandemic, with undergraduate students having the option to live in single, double, triple and quad rooms in the residence halls. We also anticipate that the Greek houses will be available as a housing option for students in these organizations. Isolation housing will be available for students who contract COVID, as no vaccine is 100% effective.

Health Considerations:

Widespread vaccination will allow substantial protection for the Lehigh community and the broader population of Bethlehem. We are encouraging all members of the community to get vaccinated when it is possible. Current estimates are that vaccines will be widely available by mid-summer, and we are considering adding the COVID vaccine to our list of required vaccinations for students, as many of our plans will depend on making sure that the risk of contracting COVID is reduced.

We anticipate that COVID testing will continue to be used as a tool for assessing and promoting the health of our campus. High-reliability rapid testing may supplant the current approach as its quality improves.

Large Gatherings, Events and Visitors:

Some large in-person gatherings will likely resume within the limits of state guidelines and recommendations from health officials. Safety restrictions will most likely affect our largest events and events held indoors. We will have spectators and audiences at athletics competitions and arts performances with modifications such as density reductions, and we are planning for traditional fall student events to be in person within safety limits. The operations of our intercollegiate athletics will be influenced by NCAA and Patriot League regulations.

Guests will be welcome on campus, including some outside speakers. We anticipate that high school students will be attending information sessions and taking campus tours as well.

We have established an FAQ that will be updated as we collect questions and information from the community regarding our fall plans, and we look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks.


Nathan Urban

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Patricia Johnson

Vice President for Finance and Administration