6.2.21: Updated Workplace COVID-19 Safety Guidance

A message sent to staff and shared with faculty. 

Dear Colleagues:

As we discussed in our April 30 email, June 1 marked a change in our campus workplace status. Work on campus is now broadly permitted at the discretion of managers. 

The Task Force to Safely Reopen Lehigh’s Campus and the COVID Response Team (CRT) have been working diligently throughout the pandemic to maintain safe working, living and learning conditions on campus. As we approached the June 1 status change, we received questions from staff across the university regarding workplace COVID-19 safety practices. We’re writing to share and clarify the guidelines that are currently in place.  

General Guidelines For Return to On-Campus Workplaces

  1. Social Distancing (3 feet) is required for all workspaces. Refer to the most recent communication from the CRT and the campus status page. This distancing requirement may be relaxed in the future as vaccination rates rise.

  2. Indoors, masks must be worn in all shared or open workspaces and a distance of at least 3 feet from all others must be maintained when masks are worn. 

Masks may be removed under the following circumstances:

  • If seats are 6 feet or greater apart OR if seats are less than 6 feet apart and the workstations have partitions that are taller than the employee's head height when unmasked and working OR if the employee is working alone and there is no one in the cubicle or workspace with them. 

If anyone enters a private workspace, stands up to talk over a partition, or takes a similar action, both people should put their masks on.

  1. Units should coordinate use of common spaces to reduce density or crowding. This includes kitchenettes, copy areas, and other similar spaces.

  2. Conference room occupancy can be determined by using the 3-foot social distancing guideline to determine how many people may be in a space at a given time.

  3. Guidelines from state and federal governments may change and the university sets community-specific health and safety policies. Be sure to check on updates or modifications on a regular basis via the campus status page of the Lehigh COVID-19 website.

We have included a number of frequently asked questions below for further reference. There is also additional information for faculty and staff on the COVID Information Center

Please keep in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic is a constantly developing situation. Currently, vaccination rates continue to increase and cases continue to decline. This good news is allowing us to plan for a fully on-campus academic year for our students. 

We want to assure you that we will continue to monitor all aspects of the pandemic and adjust guidance accordingly. The Task Force and the CRT will communicate regularly with staff and faculty regarding safety protocols as the summer progresses. 

Best regards,

Chris Halladay

Associate Vice President for Human Resources


Brent Stringfellow, AIA

Associate Vice President for Facilities

University Architect


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding On-Campus Workplace Guidelines

  1. Do I need to wear a mask when I am outside?

    As of May 17, 2021, wearing a mask at Lehigh 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.

  2. Do I need plexiglass separations at my desk?

    Generally, we are limiting the installation of plexiglass to transaction areas where there is frequent and close contact with visitors (such as the library, dining, etc).

  1. Can I eat at my desk?

    Because eating requires the removal of your mask, the same guidelines apply to eating as do other office situations. Therefore, you may eat at your desk:

    1. If seats are 6 feet or greater apart OR 

    2. If seats are less than 6 feet apart and the workstations have partitions that are taller than the employees head height when unmasked and working OR 

    3. If you are working alone and there is no one in your cubicle or workspace with you.  

When possible we recommend eating outside or using a private space.

  1. What is being done to ensure HVAC systems provide adequate ventilation?

    All HVAC systems have received and will continue to receive, regularly scheduled preventive maintenance. Filter changes will continue to follow ASHRAE guidelines. If you have any questions about your system or space please contact your building manager to review.

  1. Is my office being deep-cleaned?

    Normal cleaning processes will resume. Recent CDC guidance reported that in most cases cleaning alone removes virus particles on surfaces. Disinfection will be required in high-risk/high-contact areas like eatery entrances, the health center, testing areas, or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in a specific location within the last 24 hours.

  1. What if we need additional guidance or help in evaluating our workspace for the return to campus?

    We would advise managers of units or supervisors of spaces to contact Facilities and to make use of the Return to Campus Safety forms developed last summer. This form can assist in your planning about the operation of your space and will allow Facilities to best assist you with any questions you may have regarding changes or modifications.