2.4.22: 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, 

As we conclude the second week of the semester and the first week of in-person classes and dining, we are seeing more, but a manageable number of, positive COVID cases. As we engage in surveillance testing across the whole student population, this increase is expected. Cases are decreasing in the broader Northampton County community. Fortunately, vaccination and boosters are providing significant protection and most cases that have been reported to the university have not been severe. 

This week, we began the first of four weeks of mandatory surveillance testing of 100% of the graduate and undergraduate student population, with 50% being selected for testing each week. All undergraduate and graduate students accessing campus in the spring semester should expect to be selected twice during this 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.

Importance of Reporting Positive Tests

For students who have (in the last 90 days) or do test positive for COVID via a rapid test or at a non-Lehigh testing site, it is vital that you report your results to the HWC. The HWC is only able to recognize positive self-reports with proper documentation. Without such a report, you will be required to undergo surveillance testing, and, if you test positive, to follow isolation protocols. Students who have tested positive are asked to communicate with their close contacts, and roommates of positive students are notified.

Faculty and staff who test positive must notify the university’s LVHN Employee Health Nurse Case Manager, Christine Wolfe, RN, at Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org or 610-861-8080 ext. 23504. As a reminder, faculty teaching classes received further guidance from Provost Urban for what to do if they test positive.

Uploading Booster Verification 

The overwhelming majority of students have now uploaded verification of their booster shots. Thank you for completing this task. We remind the small number of students who are eligible for a booster but have not yet uploaded verification that this is a mandatory action. Consequences for inaction will begin, including a loss of access to certain privileges on campus.

Faculty and staff who have not yet uploaded verification via the Vault Health Survey recently received a communication indicating the steps needed to come into compliance with this requirement. Failure to complete the Vault Health survey and comply with the vaccination and booster requirement will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy. 

Continued Safety Protocols

At this time, Lehigh continues to require masking in all indoor spaces (except residence hall bedrooms). This includes the library and gym, as well as dining halls except when seated to eat. When combined with surveillance and symptomatic testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination protocols, wearing a high-quality and well-fitting mask (such as a KN-95) provides an additional layer of protection.

Campus Status

With classes, dining, library access and other campus activities resuming in-person access, the CRT will continue monitoring surveillance testing results and consider opportunities for opening up more activities if cases remain within the expected and manageable range. If cases increase, additional restrictions may be imposed. 

We have come this far together because of our shared commitment, and because of the work we’ve done together to ensure a safe and successful semester and academic year. Thank you for your continued efforts and partnership.

-COVID Response Team