7.28.21: Fall 2021 Update

A message sent to faculty and staff. 

Dear Colleagues, 

We are deeply grateful for the continued dedication and hard work of all Lehigh faculty and staff as we approach the start of the fall academic semester and prepare to greet students on campus. We look forward to seeing more people on campus next week as we continue our return-to-campus plan. It is exciting to think about a fall semester that will allow for more in-person activity and a strengthening of the sense of community at Lehigh. As we prepare for a more “normal” semester, we are, of course, closely monitoring data on the pandemic and especially the concerns about novel variants. We will certainly need to respond to these changing conditions, and with the effectiveness of vaccines and applying what we have learned over the last 18 months, we are confident that we will manage them successfully.  

As we prepare for a general return to campus by faculty and staff next week, we provide here some important reminders and updates. We will provide additional information for faculty on classes and other issues in the next day or so. 

  • The campus status page contains up-to-date information about policies that are in place. This page will continue to be updated to provide information about current policies on travel, masking, testing and other policies that affect faculty, staff and students. 

  • We have seen very few COVID cases among students, faculty and staff this summer. We will continue tracking cases on a university dashboard

  • Vaccination of faculty and staff is strongly encouraged as the best step we can take to create the conditions needed for a return to a more normal semester. Many faculty and staff have been vaccinated. We are not currently requiring vaccination for faculty and staff, but we are reviewing this policy and it may change as conditions warrant. 

  • Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) continues to be available for COVID-related health questions, including questions about vaccinations and testing. Faculty and staff are reminded to consult with and report positive cases to our LVHN occupational health specialist so that contact tracing and notification can occur and guidance can be provided. 

  • Since the CDC’s guidance on wearing masks indoors recently changed, we are reviewing its potential implications on Lehigh’s mask policy and will be providing additional guidance. 

  • All faculty, staff and students should carry a mask and their Lehigh ID at all times.  

  • Many staff have requested Flexplace agreements, and the implementation of flexible work scheduling is underway. The policy on fully remote work is in development and a draft should be available soon. 

  • We are requiring all students to be vaccinated or to receive an approved medical or religious exemption. More information on the process and policies can be found on the university’s Vaccination Resources Center. Thus far, about 2% of our students submitting information have requested an exemption, and the deadline for providing this information is next week.  

  • The university has partnered with LVHN to host a mobile vaccination clinic on campus on August 17 for staff and faculty and their families, as well as students who were not yet able to obtain a vaccine. 

Again, we thank you for your dedication to Lehigh and our students. We look forward to the semester and the year ahead.  

Best,

Nathan and Pat