5.17.21: Masks, Capacity Limits, Summer Plans

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

***Please note: This message is part of an archive where a record of messages are posted in their original form at the time they were sent. As policies can change, check the current campus status page for the most updated health and safety protocols. Past messages will not be edited to reflect the most current policies.***


Dear Members of the Lehigh Community and Lehigh Families, 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) recently updated guidance for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Businesses and private entities in the Commonwealth can set their own policies for health and safety. We are writing to share how this new guidance affects Lehigh-specific policies. The campus status page has also been updated with the below information.


We continue to strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to not wait until the fall. Those who are vaccinated are protected from the virus and can fully resume normal activities more safely. More information on required vaccination for students is included below. 


Masks have been shown to effectively mitigate the spread of germs and prevent infection. As state and federal mandatory masking measures are lifted in various contexts, some members of our community will choose to continue voluntarily wearing a mask for personal safety, medical or other reasons. We encourage members of the community to support one another in those decisions and to not make anyone feel stigmatized for wearing a mask. 

On Lehigh campuses, effective immediately for all unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals:

  • Wearing a mask is not required outdoors if you can maintain a 3-foot distance from all others. 

  • Masks are still required outdoors when a 3-foot distance is not or may not be able to be maintained, such as in crowded bleachers at sporting events. Individuals should always carry a mask with them for this reason.

  • Masks will still be required at Commencement. (Updated 5/19)

  • Masks will continue to be required indoors for the time being.

  • We may revise these requirements as vaccination rates rise. 

Capacity Limits

Effective June 1 and through the summer, we will lift the current size limits on meetings and gatherings and implement a 3-foot social distancing rule for indoor and outdoor gatherings in conjunction with continued mandatory masking in indoor spacesNote: Pennsylvania will lift all capacity limits beginning May 31 without social distancing, and Commonwealth masking requirements for unvaccinated people depend on vaccination rates. Throughout the pandemic, we successfully mitigated the spread of the virus in formal settings through masking and social distancing protocols. We may revise these requirements as vaccination rates rise.  


In summary, for both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals:


  • COVID capacity limits are lifted indoors and outdoors, with 3-ft distancing maintained


  • Outdoors + 3-ft Distance = No Mask Needed

  • Outdoors + <3-ft Distance/Not Distanced = Mask Needed

  • Indoors = Mask + 3-ft Distance Needed  

The phased resumption of on-campus work for staff will remain in effect and managers and supervisors are encouraged to exercise flexibility, understanding and care over the summer months as this transition occurs. More specific information will follow from the Task Force to Safely Open the Lehigh Campus.

Summer Surveillance Testing Update

Spring surveillance testing for students, faculty and staff concludes tomorrow, May 18. For students living in summer housing, taking summer courses, or participating in some optional summer programs, vaccination will be required as described previously. For limited cases where students receive a medical or religious exemption to this requirement, they will be required to participate in surveillance testing over the summer. Students who are required to participate in summer surveillance testing will be notified via email. In the fall, vaccination will be required of all Lehigh undergraduate and graduate students participating in on-campus programs and activities as part of their required immunizations, or they must receive approval of a medical or religious exemption. 

Reminders for Undergraduate and Graduate Students


-COVID Response Team