Even with the many adjustments we’ve had to make and the decidedly different feel of these first days of class, the beginning of a new semester always brings great excitement and freshness. This is in large part due to your careful planning and preparation. This year is no different in that regard, and I’m well aware that it has required much more of you. Thank you for your dedication and enthusiasm as we begin, and for all that you’ve done to reach this point.
As we wrap up this first week, I’m encouraged by the news that our pre-arrival and arrival testing program has revealed low COVID-19 case counts among our students. These results will be updated weekly on a public dashboard. This does not mean, of course, that we can become any less vigilant, but it’s a good start. We’d like to stay on this trajectory.
As we watch other universities where outbreaks of the virus have caused changes in their on-campus learning plans, I encourage you to talk to your students frequently about the importance of following the guidelines around mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding gatherings or more than 10 people. Ric Hall and I have emailed students about this, and President Simon sent an email to students and families with similar messaging. Given your regular contact with students and your critical influence as instructors and mentors, I believe you can be especially effective in conveying this message through your words and actions. Please remind students that we all have a role to play in whether or not we are able to continue being on campus together this semester. Help us communicate to students about the potential impact of their decisions and actions, acknowledge and celebrate the good choices you do see, and intentionally model positive behaviors in your own actions to drive this point home.
As per my earlier message, we also must give students flexibility to not attend class in person this semester. Because of our COVID-19 testing requirements, some students must take all their classes remotely early in the semester because they are still awaiting their test results or are in quarantine, preventing them from attending class in person. Please accommodate these students while they await their test results, and at any point in the semester when they may be required to quarantine or isolate. We do not want students to come to campus when they are sick for fear of a negative impact on their grade. They must be able to access required lessons and materials remotely. I also ask that you do not ask students to prove that they are still awaiting test results.
Thank you for your understanding and for all you are doing for our students and for Lehigh during this time. Stay safe and well.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs