7.10.20: Important Updates and Reminders for Phased Campus Re-Opening (Open III)

An update sent to faculty, staff and graduate students from the Task Force to Safely Open the Lehigh Campus

Dear Faculty, Staff and Graduate Students:

As we enter our Open III phase (outlined in our June 22 email), we thought it would be helpful to share additional information.

We want to remind you that at this stage, remote work when possible is still preferred. We know it may be necessary for some employees to come to campus to perform certain job responsibilities. Each decision should be made through consultation between managers/department chairs/PIs and their staff, faculty and graduate students.

This email outlines some of the key actions and community expectations related to the University’s commitment to operate in a manner that optimizes safety, ensures quality education for our students, and conforms to the Principles of Our Equitable Community.

More information regarding the University’s plans for opening will continue to be updated frequently on the Lehigh COVID-19 Information website.

Cleaning Protocols
LU Facilities and our contractor ABM will continue to provide custodial services to all occupied spaces on campus. Delivery of services will focus on best practices for cleaning and disinfection in accordance with the latest CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) guidelines.

You will see an increased presence of ABM in our buildings as they will clean high-touch surfaces and high-traffic areas such as building entrances, door handles and common areas on an ongoing basis. Classrooms and restrooms will be cleaned by ABM daily. ABM does not clean research laboratories.

High-capacity spray sanitizing using an EPA-approved cleaner will continue throughout campus, especially in larger spaces, to allow the most efficient process. Frequency will be dependent on function and activities within the building. Trash will continue to be removed from buildings daily. Individual office trash will be emptied weekly unless placed outside the office. Facilities will install and maintain hand sanitizers in public spaces in all buildings on campus. Stations will be located at entrances to all buildings, high traffic areas, and outside dining areas.

Classrooms: In addition to daily cleaning, each classroom space will be equipped with EPA- approved spray sanitizer and towels for students and faculty to use prior to or after each class. LU Facilities will stock and maintain these classroom supplies.

Offices: Individual cubicle and office cleaning will continue to be completed weekly by ABM. Additional focus will be given to cleaning and sanitizing touchpoints. Before you leave any room in which you have been working or eating you should swab down all work or eating areas with EPA-registered disinfectant. This includes your private workspace or any shared-space location or equipment.

Additional Safety Measures
Non-bottle fill water fountains will be turned off. Hand dryers will be disabled and automatic paper towel dispensers will be installed in restrooms where needed. When applicable, some restroom faucets may be temporarily disabled to maintain social distancing, with corresponding signage. When applicable, trash can lids may be removed in restrooms.

Treatment of Areas with a Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Case
After receiving notification and consulting with the Lehigh Health & Wellness Center, Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources and additional University leadership, LU Facilities will determine the extent of the closure needed. LU Facilities will then direct the deep-cleaning and sanitization of the space based on CDC/PA DOH protocols prior to re-opening. Facilities may rely on a third-party industrial disinfection provider to sanitize areas for COVID-19 as needed.

Obtaining Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cleaning Supplies
Staff, faculty and graduate students will be provided with two cloth face coverings, but will be responsible for keeping them clean and replacing them if they are lost or destroyed. You may use your own personal face coverings if you prefer. Visitors must provide their own cloth face coverings.

More specialized PPE, if required to perform your work, will be provided by the University. This would include employees in the Health & Wellness Center, Sports Medicine, LUPD, Facilities, and other units that are at higher risk for exposure to an infected person or contaminated space. PPE can be acquired from Purchasing at the University labstore via this link where order forms for non-research related PPEs will be available by July 15.

PPE that is required for specific research activities independent of COVID-19 requirements are to be provided by the researcher, as per standard-operating procedure.

Individual departments and units will be responsible for acquiring supplemental cleaning and sanitizing supplies for their spaces. Departments may either order supplies directly or work with the University purchasing department, which is currently building an inventory of supplies. The University will fund all COVID-related cleaning products. All cleaning and sanitization products should meet CDC requirements as noted here.

Where possible, HVAC systems that introduce fresh air into the buildings will have the percentage of outdoor air settings adjusted to maximize the amount of fresh air movement through the building. The percent of fresh air will be adjusted to as high as possible based on outdoor temperatures, humidity, and the capacity of the unit to heat/cool the desired percent of fresh air. All HVAC systems have received, and will continue to receive, regularly scheduled preventive maintenance. Filter changes will continue to follow ASHRAE guidelines.

Safety Management Planning
As mentioned previously, each unit or department is expected to submit a safety management plan as part of the return to campus process. (This is a separate process from research laboratory safety planning.) The safety plan template is now available for managers to use at this link. LU Facilities and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) staff will continue to consult with managers needing assistance in developing their plans. Please contact them using the inreopen@lehigh.edu email address.

Classrooms and teaching laboratories will be re-configured to provide for social distancing and the set-up should not be modified without consulting LU Facilities first.

Occupational Health Services
To support the safety and well-being of staff and faculty, Lehigh conducted an RFP process to review proposals from health care systems to provide occupational health services. Additional details about the services that will be available through our occupational health representative will be coming soon.

Self-Screening via HawkWatch App
Everyone coming to campus is expected to conduct a self-screening via the Hawk Watch app before leaving home. The screening tool is available through HawkWatch. Please be sure to download the app so you can complete this mandatory screening, which appears as a main bar at the top of the screen. Additional information about the tool and possible alternate media sources for those who do not have the technology to download the app will be shared in a future communication.

Signage with important safety reminders will continue to be posted throughout campus buildings. These signs are downloadable for individual printing on the Lehigh COVID-19 website. In addition, social distancing stickers will be installed on floors as a visual guide to help everyone maintain six feet of space between each other.

Travel, both domestic and international, can present risks associated with exposure to COVID-19. If you travel to any area with a high amount of COVID-19 cases, Lehigh University will follow the CDC and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recommendations that you self-quarantine for fourteen days upon return. The CDC guidelines say to stay home for 14 days from the time you returned home from international travel. The PA DOH is maintaining a list of states it considers to be areas with high amounts of COVID-19 cases on its COVID-19 website.

Positive COVID-19 Diagnosis
Faculty, staff and graduate students who test positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate (note the difference between quarantine and isolation), follow their primary care physician’s advice, and stay in touch with their supervisor, department chair or PI as they normally would when out sick. Faculty, staff and graduate students are not required to share their diagnosis with their supervisor, department chair or PI, but may be required to share this information confidentially with Lehigh as stated in the next paragraph.

Faculty, staff and graduate students who test positive and have been on campus or in close proximity with other Lehigh community members within fourteen days of experiencing symptoms, must notify Lehigh through this confidential survey to begin workplace contact tracing. Any questions regarding this process can be sent to Lehigh University Human Resources at intrace@lehigh.edu.

Additional Staff Sick Leave Provision Extended
Lehigh has extended the additional sick leave provision (which had been set to expire on July 1, 2020) to December 31, 2020. Staff will be allotted an additional ten (10) days of sick leave if they exhaust their available sick leave bank. Staff may use their sick leave bank as well as the ten additional days to care for themselves or a sick family member who lives in the employee’s home.


Mandatory Safety Training: All faculty, staff and graduate students planning to return to campus must complete the COVID-19 Return to Work Training. This online course includes important information regarding safety practices all staff and faculty are required to adhere to on campus. Remember to complete the acknowledgement and agreement step and download your completion certificate to submit as proof of completion.

Face Coverings and Social Distancing: By order of the PA DOH, face coverings must be worn in all public spaces and businesses (including educational institutions). This also includes outdoor areas where social distancing is not possible. At Lehigh, we consider this order to include all of our buildings as well as outdoor spaces such as campus walkways. A face covering is not a substitute for social distancing. Everyone should still be striving to maintain a six-foot distance between each other at all times.

Gatherings/Meetings: All meetings and gatherings whenever possible should continue to be virtual/digital. Non-academic gatherings that cannot be accomplished virtually should be limited to 25 people and social distancing must be maintained.

If You Don’t Feel Well: Stay home and notify your supervisor, department chair, or PI.

Concerns about Returning to Work On Campus: Please refer to the information in the June 22 email for guidance on this topic.

Lehigh as an institution is committed to doing its best to mitigate risk and keep its people and facilities as safe as possible. However, personal behavior on the part of all who come to campus is an essential ingredient in this effort.

As faculty, staff and graduate students, we have a shared responsibility to each other and to our campus and surrounding communities to adhere to all national, state and university requirements. We must commit to each other that we will wear our face coverings, maintain social distancing, wash our hands, and do our part to keep our work spaces clean during the day. We are accountable to each other as one Lehigh community.

Thank you for all that you do for the university.


Chris Halladay, Co-Chair
Associate Vice President for Human Resources
Brent Stringfellow, AIA, Co-Chair
Associate Vice President for Facilities
University Architect