3.5.21: Further Resuming Campus Activities

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

Dear Members of the Lehigh Community and Lehigh Families,

We are very pleased to report that following last week’s easing of campus restrictions, we continue to see fewer positive COVID-19 cases, with student surveillance testing positivity rates under 1% and low positivity rates for symptomatic testing in the Health and Wellness Center. The rate of infection in Northampton County is also declining. This shows that as we work together to fight the pandemic we have a broader impact on our community. Our mitigation efforts are critical on multiple fronts.

Thanks to all of your good work, we are looking to begin further resuming campus activities. As long as positivity rates continue to be low, we can build back to a more normal campus life, with more opportunities to be together and restore our sense of community and our traditions.

We do want to stress that now is not the time to stop being careful, as no one wants a reversal of our collective hard work. Double masking, social distancing, and following our established community health and safety protocols will allow us to preserve our progress and even further open up activities if positivity rates continue to remain low.

Moving forward, we will newly implement the following:

  1. Gatherings (size) - The limit on the gathering size for indoor spaces will double from 5 to 10. Outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people will continue to be permitted (e.g., walking outside in groups or playing outdoor games as the weather permits). As the weather improves and if COVID-19 positivity rates remain low, more in-person activities will be able to resume. Physical distancing and mask-wearing are required for all gatherings, including outdoors. Classrooms will continue to follow approved in-person class sizes. Since our last update announcing lounge spaces opening in the University Center, the Lamberton Great Room is now being utilized as a study area for students during the week from Monday-Thursday. -Effective immediately

  2. Dining - We will open in-person dining on a trial basis between March 15 and March 17. We will implement increased testing in the residential student population following this timeframe to determine if we can continue the resumption of in-person dining options. This will be dependent on maintaining low positivity rates from this testing. -Effective March 15-17 to start

  3. Gym - We announced previously that Taylor Gym would resume access with required double masking and no eating/drinking allowed. Phase I of public reopening will begin March 15 for graduate and undergraduate students who are not remote; this timeframe will allow additional training to take place for staff the week prior. Hours and additional information will be posted on the website. -Effective March 15

  4. Athletics Spectators - With proper capacity limits and safety protocols in place, we will begin permitting pre-approved spectators such as family members of athletes to attend outdoor sporting events. More specific information about the required protocols will be provided by Lehigh Athletics. If COVID-19 positivity rates remain low and there is not concerning evidence of transmission in these venues, we will plan to permit students as spectators, further opening attendance at these events. -Effective immediately, per athletics schedules

For these changes to remain in effect, positivity rates from ongoing surveillance testing and testing overall will need to remain low. The COVID Response Team will continue to monitor these results daily and adjust operations accordingly for the health and safety of the community. If rates become consistently above 2%, we will consider reversing these actions.

View the updated Campus Status page for a full summary, including areas that remained unchanged. This page will always be updated with the most current operations at-a-glance.

Thank you for your efforts and your commitment to promoting a safe and healthy campus as well as supporting the health of the greater Bethlehem community.

-COVID-19 Response Team