3.2.20: Important faculty and staff information regarding 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 Colleagues,

A campus email update was sent last week regarding spring break travel, and we wanted to provide faculty and staff with specific guidance regarding what you should do if you already have travel plans, as well as guidance for making future travel plans.

Travel guidance for faculty and employees

Faculty and staff should not travel on Lehigh business to CDC Alert Level 2, Warning Level 3, or State Department Warning Level 4 countries. Note that Lehigh faculty and staff can use ISOS for support when traveling internationally. Please check the ISOS site for benefits and trip registration: https://www.internationalsos.com/MasterPortal/Default.aspx

If you plan to travel on personal business to countries the CDC has identified as Alert Level 2, Warning Level 3, or by the US State Department as Warning Level 4 you should:

  1. Share any travel plans with your supervisor or department chair in order to facilitate university assistance if the need arises; and
  2. Not return to campus until at least 14 days after you have last left a CDC Alert Level 2, Warning Level 3 or State Department Warning Level 4 country or region. Faculty and staff should contact their supervisor if this results in staying away from Lehigh during normal work hours. Clearly, should faculty or staff develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they should consult their physician and not return to campus until their physician indicates it is safe to do so.
  3. Please be aware that countries or regions designated by the CDC as Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 or the State Department as Level 4 may change at any time.

As of this date and time, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and Italy (Warning Level 3) and recommends postponing nonessential travel for older adults and those with chronic medical conditions to 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. 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

Teaching and Learning

As you read in the campus update, any student who traveled to a country the CDC identified as a “Warning Level 3” or “Alert Level 2” will be required to self-monitor for 14 days before returning to campus. Please work with these students to ensure they can complete their assignments and keep up with their coursework.

There are several ways for faculty to make class material available to absent students. One, which most faculty already use regularly, is through Course Site. Another tool, which is now widely available on campus, is Zoom, the video conferencing and recording platform. Anyone at Lehigh with a Lehigh username can host a Zoom meeting. If you have not used Zoom before, I encourage you to take some time now to become familiar with its features (see: https://lts.lehigh.edu/services/explanation/zoom).

As we continue to be in the midst of flu season, we also ask faculty to take the lead in talking to your students about missing class due to illness, and how they can make up work they have missed. While we understand there is some concern of misuse of “I had to miss class because I was sick,” a significant penalty for missing class or a large hurdle to overcome to make up work incentivizes students to come to class even when they should really stay home to avoid affecting others.

Finally, we would like to remind all of us in the Lehigh community of our commitment to our Principles of our Equitable Community, particularly with respect to the harmful impact of projecting susceptibility to COVID-19 or responsibility for the disease on any members of our community. I ask for your help in reaffirming our collective commitment to the Principles, letting your students know that, and engaging should you see or hear actions or words contrary to those Principles.

We recognize this is a period of flux as we all work to best respond to the evolving situation. Thank you for your understanding and your support in helping our campus community stay healthy.

We encourage you to visit the website for ongoing updates: https://www2.lehigh.edu/news/updates-on-novel-coronavirus


Pat Farrell
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Pat Johnson
Vice President for Finance and Administration