8.30.21: Classroom Guidance in the Event of a Positive Student COVID Test

A message sent to faculty and instructional staff

Dear Colleagues,

We have received a number of questions regarding what instructors should do if a student reports a positive COVID test.

When we become aware that a student receives a positive COVID test result:

  • The Provost’s Office will provide information to instructors and students when a student in their class tests positive; more information about these notifications will be sent in a follow-up email.
  • All participants in the class—students and instructor(s)—should self-monitor for COVID symptoms.
  • Anyone experiencing symptoms must get tested. Faculty should follow the advice of their primary care physician and notify the university’s LVHN Employee Health Nurse Case Manager, Christine Wolfe, RN, at Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org or 610-861-8080 ext. 23504. Students should call the Health and Wellness Center (HWC) at 610-758-3870 for guidance. Students should not come to class or engage in group activities in person until receiving a confirmed negative test result. Anyone who gets tested off campus must report their results to either the HWC (students) or Christine Wolfe (faculty and staff).
  • Unvaccinated students in the class may choose to receive a COVID test even if they are asymptomatic. They can schedule one at this link. Unvaccinated students are also required to participate in weekly surveillance testing.
  • Faculty who want a test can obtain one at a local health center or pharmacy. Testing can be coordinated by Christine Wolfe. Testing is typically covered by Lehigh insurance. See the Pennsylvania Department of Health site or Lehigh’s HWC site for lists of local testing resources.
  • Classes should shift to remote instruction if the instructor becomes symptomatic or receives a positive COVID test result. In this case, the class must shift to remote instruction until the instructor receives a confirmed negative test result or, in the case of a positive test, is cleared to return to work. Alternatively, if the instructor is too sick to teach, the class can be rescheduled or an alternative instructor can be found.
  • If the percentage of students in isolation for COVID in a class (section) is greater than 30%, the instructor can move to remote instruction until students return from isolation. Isolation typically lasts 10 days after a positive test result.
  • Some students are reporting that they are reluctant to get tested because they don’t want to miss material covered in class. Faculty should provide information to students about how they can make up for missed time and encourage students not to come to class when they have COVID symptoms.

In the interest of further reducing the potential for transmission, we have updated our masking policy to prohibit the removal of masks in the classroom. Masks must be worn in classes at all times, with no exception for eating or drinking. The lecturer may remove their mask briefly to drink or may use a drinking straw that can be used with a mask on.

Nathan Urban
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs