3.9.21: Travel Policy Updates

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

Dear Members of the Lehigh Community and Lehigh Families, 

We are writing to provide updates regarding Lehigh’s travel policy for students, faculty and staff. As you may be aware, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) recently revised its travel guidelines, removing the testing and quarantining requirements for out-of-state travelers to Pennsylvania. The update also revised capacity limits for gatherings. 

The university continues to monitor these changes and take into account recommendations and guidelines from the PA DOH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in developing policies. In some cases, there may be additional Lehigh-specific requirements based on the data and mitigation needs unique to our community and our residential student population. Our current gathering limits are described on our campus status page and other health and safety requirements are on our COVID-19 Information website. We recently revised some facets of our travel policies for faculty and staff and have kept our student travel policy the same, as described below. 

Faculty and Staff Travel Revisions

  • Throughout the semester, we have not seen evidence of transmission of COVID within our faculty and staff population or from faculty and staff to students. Therefore, we will align our travel policy with the new PA DOH guidelines, which remove quarantining and testing requirements for faculty and staff traveling out-of-state or internationally.
  • The CDC continues to strongly discourage travel if at all possible and offers recommendations for those who do travel domestically or internationally. We similarly encourage faculty and staff to avoid unnecessary personal travel if at all possible; all University-related travel will continue to require Dean, Vice President, or Provost approval. However, we will no longer require faculty and staff to quarantine or demonstrate a negative test after traveling and before returning to work.
  • If travel is necessary, we encourage faculty and staff to be extra vigilant and careful, especially if you are exposed to settings where the risk of transmission is higher, such as environments where social distancing is difficult during your trip (e.g., at a busy airport). Avoid traveling if sick, wear a mask and socially distance, check travel restrictions, wash your hands frequently, and consider waiting until you’re vaccinated to travel and getting tested before and after travel. The CDC does not currently have different guidance for vaccinated travelers and still discourages unnecessary travel. International travelers should be aware there may be additional testing requirements in place per airline rules, and you may still need to demonstrate a negative test before being allowed to fly.
  • If you have been in a high-risk environment as described above, we’d encourage you to voluntarily get a COVID-19 test upon returning home and before returning to work or to sign up for a Lehigh surveillance test by emailing inlutest@lehigh.edu
  • The quarantine requirements for travel differ from quarantine requirements for those who came into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19; always follow the medical guidance provided in those cases. 

Student Travel 

  • Given our residential and congregate setting and acknowledging the on- and off-campus interactions that occur between students who are both living on campus and with roommates off campus, we are not revising our student travel policy at this time. That is, we continue to advise students not to travel away from the Bethlehem area, except for emergency circumstances, as this will reduce the risk of infection and transmission of the coronavirus.
  • If they must travel, students should follow the travel/return to campus policy, which involves quarantining for 10 days or until receiving a negative COVID-19 test result. Lehigh surveillance testing occurs Monday-Thursday during the week, and we’d encourage students to utilize this schedule to get tested as soon as possible upon return to shorten the length of time you’re required to quarantine after travel.
  • As before, this only applies to:
  1. fully remote undergraduate students living in Bethlehem,
  2. undergraduate students living off campus in Bethlehem and accessing campus
  3. undergraduate students living in residence halls
  4. graduate students taking in-person classes
  5. graduate students living in Lehigh housing
  • We especially discourage trips to other college campuses for social activities.
  • The CDC does not currently have different guidance for vaccinated travelers and still discourages unnecessary travel.
  • The quarantine requirements for travel (10 days) differ from quarantine requirements for those who came into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 (14 days, without an option for “testing out”). Always follow the medical guidance provided in those cases. 

Spring break was canceled to discourage travel away from campus, and more information will be coming later this week about Wellness Week, which will include programming and alternative opportunities for students to decompress and focus on their mental health and well-being in lieu of traveling.

We recognize this would traditionally be a time for many to disconnect from their studies to recharge and reconnect with family and friends in person. We are hopeful for the spring months ahead and committed to supporting students during this time as we work together to ensure a safe and successful remainder of the spring semester. 

Resources:

-COVID-19 Response Team