2.28.20: Important information regarding spring break travel and COVID-19

The university senior leadership and medical professionals in the Health and Wellness Center continue to monitor the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak and to provide updates.

Dear Members of the Campus Community, 

Reports of the spread of COVID-19 continue to dominate the news, causing understandable concerns and questions. At Lehigh, we are taking measures to prepare and provide for the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. 

At the highest levels across the university, we are actively monitoring the situation and seeking the most current information and health expertise to inform our guidance, recognizing that the situation is fast-moving and fluid. A group of senior leaders has established ongoing meetings to ensure Lehigh’s short- and long-term preparedness. Our Health and Wellness team also continues to be in frequent communication with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), the Bethlehem Health Bureau, and local healthcare entities regarding their recommendations, and is reviewing guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

As of this date and time, there are NO SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19 on our campus. The university senior leadership and medical professionals in the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center (LU HWC) continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and to provide updates through email and the Lehigh website. 

At Lehigh, we embrace the global nature of our community and programs and we recognize that in situations such as this we must make preparations for events and contingencies on campus and also for our community members who travel away from campus. 

As we approach spring break, please be sure to thoroughly review the important travel guidance included in this message.

Travel information

We recognize that some students are returning from study abroad programs or have travel plans for spring break and wanted to provide those students with guidance. To mitigate the risk of COVID-19 on our campus, we are requiring all students before returning to campus from spring break or study abroad travel from countries the CDC has identified as “Warning Level 3” and “Alert Level 2,” as outlined below, to:

  1. Upon return to the U.S., contact the LU HWC at 610-758-3870 to review recent travel history and current symptoms for follow-up guidance; and
  2. Self-monitor for 14 days before returning to campus. Students will be allowed to return to campus after a 14-day self-monitoring period.  During this period, students should monitor for fever, cough, or shortness of breath. The HWC will be in contact with you as soon as possible to review your self-monitoring activities once we are notified you are returning to the United States (610-758-3870).  HWC will review your health status/symptoms and make a determination about your return to campus. Staff and Faculty will work with students who need to complete academic work remotely.
  3. Please be aware that countries designated by the CDC as Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 may change at any time.

As of this date and time, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China and South Korea (Warning Level 3) and recommends postponing nonessential travel for older adults and those with chronic medical conditions to Iran, Italy, and Japan (Alert Level 2). CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to Hong Kong (Watch Level 1). Other Destinations with Risk of Community Spread are: Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. At this time, the extent of virus spread is not sustained or widespread enough to meet the criteria for a travel health notice.

This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation and recommendations are subject to change. As individuals make their spring break plans, please be aware that although you may be able to leave the U.S. and go to other countries, there is always the possibility that you may experience difficulty returning depending on how this situation evolves. Travelers should refer to the CDC website for the most up-to-date information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.  International students have received additional guidance from the International Students and Scholars Office (ISS) office, and we are reminding students to closely read that guidance.

The Lehigh Study Abroad Office has been in direct and regular communication with our students who are currently studying abroad, and their families, regarding ongoing guidance. The safety of our community members is a priority.

The university has suspended summer programs in China and South Korea. We continue to monitor the spread of the virus in other countries and remain in direct communication with our students currently abroad, as well as their families, regarding current guidance. We are also working directly with our study abroad partner programs to be informed of their decisions regarding their programs and assist students with plans that will enable them to complete the academic semester in the event their study abroad program is interrupted. As some of our students choose to voluntarily return home from their study abroad programs, the Health and Wellness Center is working with the Study Abroad Office to evaluate students before they return to campus.

We are aware there have been instances in which people from some of the affected countries, or those who have recently visited them have been stigmatized, and we want to remind you that we are a diverse community that values all of our members.

The health and safety of our community members is our priority. We will continue to keep you updated and informed regarding this constantly evolving situation.

Sincerely,

John D. Simon ’19P

President

David Rubenstein

Executive Director of the Health and Wellness Center