8.21.2020: COVID Testing Strategy

A message to faculty and staff from Nathan Urban and Patricia Johnson

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

As many of you know, we have put in place requirements for COVID testing for: 

  • Undergraduate students living in the dorms

  • Undergraduate students who have not declared to be fully remote and 

  • Graduate students taking in-person classes.

We have identified these groups as highest priority for testing based on several factors:

  • Many of these students are traveling to the Lehigh Valley to come to campus.
  • Students living in dorms and using hallway bathroom facilities are at elevated risk for transmission, so it is critical to identify positive cases to minimize spread in dorms.
  • Students not living in the dorms will nonetheless interact closely with students who do live in the dorms. So identifying and isolating cases in the broader student population is critical to maintaining the health of the campus.
  • Based on experiences at other universities over the last few weeks, the main route of COVID transmission seems to be via gatherings (mostly off campus) of students in which social distancing and mask wearing guidelines are not followed. Therefore we are seeking to reduce the numbers of cases in the student population.

Based on these priorities and guidance from the CDC and PA Department of Health, we are not planning to test asymptomatic faculty and staff. 

While surveillance testing of faculty and staff is not part of our plans, any faculty or staff member with symptoms or who has been in contact with a known COVID-positive person should get tested. This testing can be done by your Primary Care Physician, or can be coordinated through our new occupational health services partnership with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). More information about the services LVHN will provide and how to contact them will follow shortly. Any student (including graduate students) coming in contact with a person known to be COVID positive should contact the Health and Wellness Center. Faculty and staff who are not symptomatic and wish to get tested can do so for a fee through Vault Health (the company we have contracted with for student arrival testing) or through a number of other providers.

Any faculty or staff member who has been on campus or in close proximity to other Lehigh community members and receives a positive COVID-19 test result should self-isolate, follow a primary care physician’s advice, and notify Lehigh by following the instructions at this link.

If a student tests positive, faculty and instructional staff teaching in-person classes in which that student is enrolled will be contacted as part of the contact tracing efforts. As described in a recent e-mail, to facilitate contact tracing, faculty and instructional staff should take attendance in class and should either assign seats or take a picture of students’ seating locations at the beginning of every class. 

Thanks for your work in support of our students and our university. Please email provost@lehigh.edu if you have questions.

Important Information: Fall 2020 Academic Calendar

  • All classes begin Monday, August 24. All in-person delivery of course material will end Friday, November 20. Online-only instruction will take place from Monday, November 30, through Friday, December 4 (the last day of class).
  • There will be no pacing break in October. Instead, classes WILL NOT be held from Monday, November 23 through Friday, November 27.
  • The first-year and other students on campus will leave for Thanksgiving break and not return until Spring Semester 2021.
  • The review, consultation, and study (RCS) period is scheduled for Saturday, December 5 and Monday, December 7.
  • Final exams (online only) are scheduled for Tuesday, December 8 through Wednesday, December 16.
  • Semester grades are due no later than 8:30 AM on Saturday, December 19.

Nathan Urban, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Patricia Johnson, Vice President for Finance and Administration