3.19.21: Additional In-Person Activities and Events

A message sent to members of the Lehigh community and Lehigh families.

Dear Members of the Lehigh Community and Lehigh Families, 

With COVID-19 positivity rates remaining low, this past week we made good strides with resuming some in-person activities, such as opening dining on a trial basis and reopening campus spaces such as the fitness center in Taylor Gym and the lounges in the University Center. We commend the Lehigh community, and particularly undergraduate students, for their efforts to reverse the spike in cases we saw earlier in the semester.  

In-person Activities Resuming

More in-person events have also begun to resume, such as the Hot Shots Basketball Tournament, hosted by Campus Athletics, and we’ve opened up the use of recreational space on Sayre Fields and on Goodman campus for the Lehigh community. 

In addition, we are pleased to allow a limited number of students to attend the last home football game of the season on Saturday, March 27.  Admission will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of faculty and staff will have the opportunity to attend the game. Follow the appropriate survey links for students and faculty and staff to reserve your spot at the game. There are also volunteer opportunities for additional faculty and staff to check in guests and then stay for the game as well. Email questions to athleticstickets@lehigh.edu.

Next week, Wellness Week programming will offer a variety of virtual, “take-home” and in-person activities such as yoga in Grace Hall. Approved events taking place in person are following rigorous health and safety protocols. We encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities to relieve some stress and connect with one another. 

Enhanced Surveillance Testing, Dining

We are enhancing surveillance testing in the coming weeks to assess whether increased transmission has been associated with in-person dining. Following the three-day trial of in-person dining, as long as the positivity rates remain low, we plan to resume in-person dining later next week (no earlier than Wednesday, March 24, to allow time for assessment).

Outdoor Spaces for Student Use

As warmer weather is just around the corner, you will see the large tents reassembled on campus near Zoellner (AC Tamerler Courtyard Tent), STEPS (AC STEPS Lawn Tent), the University Center (AC Bell Tower Bungalow Tent) and Iacocca. Based on student feedback, these spaces will be primarily dedicated for student use, and student organizations and advisors will be able to reserve them via 25Live for special events and recreational activities following the approved limits on gatherings. Surveillance testing will remain in Zoellner. With health and safety protocols and ventilation that exceeds industry standards in place at Zoellner, this space continues to support the health and safety of all those who are participating in surveillance testing each week. 

In addition to reserving the outdoor tents, we encourage all students to use the outdoor tables and chairs situated across campus. While more analysis is needed, recent studies indicate that simply choosing to move your gathering or meet-up outside instead of inside reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses by as much as 18-fold—provided other safety protocols such as double-masking and social distancing are followed. 

If positivity rates continue to remain low after next week, the COVID-19 Response Team will review ongoing requests and will consider opening or expanding activities further within appropriate safety limits, such as allowing additional spectators at outdoor athletics events. The number of positive cases in Northampton County has increased in the past week, and we will continue to monitor this. So far, there is no evidence that this increase has impacted campus. We are also continuing to monitor the positivity rates for ongoing surveillance testing and testing conducted by the Health and Wellness Center. If rates consistently increase to 2% or higher, we will consider reversing some of these activities. 

The Lehigh community has done a remarkable job of reversing our earlier spike in positive cases, and we urge you to continue to keep up the great work.  

Further Reading:

Resources:

-COVID-19 Response Team