In the past week, we have seen a rapid decline in the number of active COVID cases for students and faculty/staff. Although the Health and Wellness Center continues to treat and test dozens of students per day with COVID-like symptoms, there have been no new COVID-positive tests over the last two days for those experiencing symptoms, indicating these illnesses are not COVID-related. However, as the semester continues, we expect that the number of COVID cases will continue to fluctuate.
Some reminders in response to recent COVID-related questions regarding classroom procedures:
- In addition to the university’s COVID dashboard, which is updated weekly, faculty and instructors can look up how many students in their class have active COVID cases; this information is updated in near-real time and may be used to help make decisions about the format of the class (e.g., if temporarily moving to remote instruction is indicated) and whether or not to require masks. Data reported in this dashboard comes from tests performed in the Health and Wellness Center (HWC) and results from at-home tests that students upload (as they are required to do) to the health portal.
- Any meeting organizer can require masking; as organizers for their class meetings, instructors have the authority to make this decision for any class. This does not need to be a blanket requirement for the entire semester and can be specified on a class-by-class basis. If students fail to comply, you can tell them to leave class and/or report them to the Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations.
- Students have access to COVID testing in the Health and Wellness Center, as described in a message at the beginning of the semester. Students testing positive are instructed to isolate in their rooms for five days and wear a mask for another five. Instructors may request that students forward confirmation of a positive test that will be provided by the HWC. Faculty should tell students to stay home if they are sick and not come to class; providing support through flexibility with assignments, deadlines, and class work will help discourage students from coming to class and potentially getting others sick.
- If you have concerns that students who are COVID-positive are still choosing to come to class, you should reassure students that they will be able to make up any work they miss. Students should not be academically punished for getting COVID. You are allowed to ask students with obvious COVID symptoms to leave class.
- Last semester, we provided the option that if more than 30% of the students in a class had active COVID cases, the instructor could shift to remote instruction until cases declined. Given the changing nature of COVID and the increase in at-home testing, this standard is not as useful as it was previously. Therefore, if, because of concerns about COVID's impact on the educational progress of students who must miss class, an instructor wishes to shift to remote instruction for a small number of classes (three or fewer in the entire semester) they can do so by simply informing their department chair of the change. After three classes, shifting to remote instruction requires that the official count of COVID cases in the class exceeds the 30% threshold. I hope that this additional flexibility will be helpful.
- Faculty testing positive should contact Christine Wolfe at Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org; in addition to helping us accurately track case counts, Christine serves as a resource for Lehigh faculty and staff and can provide additional COVID-related guidance. Faculty who are sick and testing positive may choose to shift classes to remote instruction while isolating or (as in the past) they may choose to reschedule class or find a replacement instructor. When classes are shifted to remote due to the instructor’s illness, these remote classes do not count towards the maximum of three remote classes mentioned in the bullet point above.