3.9.20: Lehigh COVID-19 domestic travel and other updates

New guidance for domestic travel, hosting events, visitors to campus, human resource-related matters, and other information regarding Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19). 

Dear Members of the Campus Community and Lehigh Families,

This email includes new guidance for domestic travel, hosting events, visitors to campus, human resource-related matters, and other information regarding Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19). As we prepare for the conclusion of spring break, you can expect another message later this week with information on returning to campus.

Please remember we also have an informative FAQ and other resources posted on our central webpage dedicated to Lehigh COVID-19 updates, which is updated frequently: https://www2.lehigh.edu/news/updates-on-novel-coronavirus 

Status of COVID-19 at Lehigh

  • As of this date and time, there are NO SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19 on our campus.

 New Information

  • Domestic Travel- As the instances of COVID-19 increase within the United States, U.S. officials are moving from focusing on the containment of the virus to mitigating its effect as it spreads. At this time:
    • We strongly encourage you to reconsider all non-essential university-related domestic travel.  We will continue to monitor and provide updated guidance as needed.
    • We strongly encourage you to exercise caution and use your best judgment for your personal domestic travel.
  • Events- We are working diligently to assess our regular operations and adjust as necessary, including the potential for remote work in all areas. At this time:
    • We are assessing our policy and anticipate announcing guidelines around holding events, particularly ones of significant size, later this week
    • Although as of today we are not issuing restrictions for hosting events, we ask university hosts to think critically about whether the event is essential and whether it can be postponed.
    • For our athletics program and athletics events, directors across the league are in close contact with one another and evaluating the ongoing game schedules, with student safety being the priority.  At this moment in time, there are no changes to the athletic schedule.
  • Visitors- We would ask all individuals to follow the guidance for hosting visitors for professional and social purposes outlined under the “Visitor Information” section below.
  • Human Resources- Please also review the section below with information specifically for supervisors, department heads, and employees.

 Additional Travel Information

  • International travel- As of this date and time, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Italy, Iran and South Korea (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).
  • Register your travel- As shared in previous guidance, we are asking that all students traveling to areas the State Department has identified as "Warning Level 4", and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified as "Warning Level 3" and "Alert Level 2," (check levels here, as they may change: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) to inform the Health and Wellness Center (HWC) of your plans.
  • Self-monitor- All faculty, staff, and students returning from these areas are required to stay at home and self-monitor for 14 days before returning to campus. Students, faculty, and staff will be allowed to return to campus after a 14-day self-monitoring period.  During this period, individuals should monitor for fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Staff and Faculty will work with students who need to complete academic work remotely.
  • Faculty and staff have been advised not to travel on Lehigh business to CDC Alert Level 2, Warning Level 3, or State Department Warning Level 4 countries.

Infection Control

  • Campus staff are taking extra measures to sanitize surfaces and provide resources to prevent germs. We are placing additional hand sanitizers at the entrance to libraries, residence halls and dining facilities, completing extra cleanings of bathrooms and common spaces, and wiping down surfaces frequently. We are also stocking additional supplies such as sanitizers, soap, and paper towels. Over spring break, campus staff are using an electrolyzed all-natural, non-toxic water solution to clean throughout residence hall lounges, common areas and classrooms.
  • Please practice common-sense preventative measures such as washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, staying home when you are sick, covering your cough with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Visit our FAQ to read about strategies for reducing the risk of infections: https://www2.lehigh.edu/news/updates-on-novel-coronavirus.

Visitors to Campus

  • We are strongly encouraging that any groups or departments on campus who receive or schedule visitors to campus to provide the following guidance
    • Prospective visitors to campus who have been to any country the CDC has identified as Alert Level 2 (as of 3/9/20: Japan) or Warning Level 3 (as of 3/9/20: China, Iran, Italy, South Korea) are required to self-monitor for fever, cough, or shortness of breath and be symptom-free for at least 14 days before visiting campus. This requirement is in keeping with expectations also set for members of the Lehigh community. Note that the list of affected countries may change at any time; check the CDC website for updates: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
    • For the next month, please consider limiting the number of visitors you bring to campus for both professional and social purposes and continue to monitor these guidelines.

Human Resources

  • Supervisors and department heads-
    • Please remind employees who are sick to remain at home.
    • Be flexible with providing work-at-home options, including for employees who need to care for children in the event of school closings.
    • If an employee has questions about whether they should stay at home and self-monitor or seek medical attention, please refer them to their family physician.
    • Please exercise your best judgment in making accommodations, and seek advice from Human Resources as needed.
  • Staff-
    • If you are sick, or have traveled to a Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 country and need to stay home to self-monitor, and/or if you have any questions regarding changing university-sponsored travel plans or your working arrangements, please communicate with your supervisor.

Faculty, Teaching Fellows, Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and other Instructors

  • Please keep preparing for the possibility of moving your courses to distance learning models and note that given the quickly changing nature of the situation, you may not be given much advance notice if we need to move to online coursework.
  • Read the most recent update from Provost Farrell. 

Ongoing Planning

  • Leaders across the university are continuing to plan for the short- and long-term actions we need to take to best support the health and wellness of our community.
  • Leaders are also working diligently to fine-tune plans for continuing university operations under adverse circumstances involving the need for remote work.
  • This proactive planning is not intended to, nor should it, cause alarm. These discussions are required to provide for the safety of our community and to minimize disruption to the important academic and other work at the university.

You may continue to receive emails from individual offices on campus with specific guidance about actions you need to take to address your, and our community’s, health and wellness. We recognize there is a great deal of information coming out frequently from various outlets, and we encourage you to continue monitoring your email for these important updates from Lehigh.

For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions, visit: https://www2.lehigh.edu/news/updates-on-novel-coronavirus

Sincerely,

University Leadership and Crisis Management Team