3.11.20: Lehigh moves to remote learning temporarily

A message sent to the campus community from President Simon. 

A Message from President Simon:

Dear Members of the Campus Community and Lehigh Families,

As of Monday, March 16, classes will be taught remotely and students are expected to return home or remain home to continue their coursework for the next two weeks. We will continue to assess developments during this time and provide further guidance. We are taking this extraordinary step in an effort to protect the health and safety of our community and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. To be clear, the university will remain open, and we are confident in our ability to continue to deliver on our educational and research mission during this time.

While there are currently no suspected or confirmed cases on campus, given the uncertainties about the spread of the virus, medical professionals have advised us that it is prudent to take precautions and act on the assumption that the virus will reach our campus. The Governor of Pennsylvania signed an emergency disaster declaration late last week. Our decision is consistent with the “social distancing” recommendations from health experts, and we continue to follow guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the City of Bethlehem Health Bureau.

We understand this decision presents challenges, and we are confident our community will call on their collective resourcefulness, flexibility and creativity to adjust. In-person discussion and personal relationships are an important component of our rigorous academic environment. We thank our students, faculty, teaching fellows, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, instructors, and staff for their adaptability during this time.

All other operations on campus will continue, and resources for students will be accessible remotely. In addition:

  • Students will receive instructions from their professors with details about continuing their coursework remotely and meeting their academic requirements.
  • Students will have access to their on-campus residence between now and 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 16, to retrieve materials needed to continue their academic studies remotely. No overnight stays will be permitted unless you have received exceptional permission to remain living on campus (see below).
  • Residential students who are unable to return home due to extreme circumstances should submit a request to remain on campus. In order to fill out the COVID-19 Housing Exception Request, please visit your Housing and Dining Self-Service Page. Click on applications on the left side of the screen, then click on COVID-19 Housing Exception Request and fill out the request form.
  • Students currently residing off-campus are also strongly encouraged to return to their permanent homes. For students living in off-campus housing, access to campus and university resources such as the libraries, dining, and the recreation/fitness center will be extremely limited.
  • To encourage social distancing during this time, in addition to implementing remote coursework, all non-essential gatherings of 25 or more people are strongly discouraged, and events for 100 or more individuals are prohibited. Organizers should postpone meetings and events, or consider remote technology.
  • Faculty will receive a follow-up message from deans and department heads with more specific guidance regarding labs, research, and instruction as needed.
  • Offices and departments will open as scheduled on Monday, March 16, and employees should communicate questions about work arrangements with supervisors, if necessary.
  • Please refer to the dedicated website with additional information about COVID-19 and guidance regarding travel, visitors to campus, staying healthy, and other important information.

Thank you to our campus staff who have been working diligently throughout this situation to support the well-being of our students and campus community. We will continue working with our local, state, and federal partners to address and adapt to the impact of COVID-19.  

While no one is certain how this situation will evolve, we are taking measures to be prepared, responsive, and informed and appreciate the community’s spirit of collaboration and support as we work through this together. We will continue to keep you updated and informed.


John D. Simon ’19P