Updated Mar. 31: COVID-19 Information

At the highest levels across the university, we are actively monitoring COVID-19 and taking measures to support the health and well-being of our campus community. Check this page for ongoing updates and answers to frequently asked questions.

Announced March 12: Lehigh will be moving to remote coursework for the remainder of the academic semester (through the end of final exams on Wednesday, May 13). Read the announcement.

The university's senior leadership and medical professionals in the Health and Wellness Center are continuing to monitor this situation. (*Note: As a reminder, The World Health Organization changed the name of the virus to COVID-19 on Feb. 11.)

Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 (Updated 3.31.20 at 4:15 p.m.)

Overview

As positive cases for COVID-19 have now been confirmed for several Lehigh students, we continue to emphasize and stress the importance of being vigilant in practicing good health habits, social distancing and other preventative measures we know mitigate the risk of exposure to the virus.

Given the prevalence of the virus, we will continue to communicate about the emergence of new cases to our community if there is a compelling reason to do so. The HWC will continue working to identify contacts and communicate with individuals as appropriate in cases identified to the HWC.

The university has been taking exceptional measures to mitigate the risk of exposure to members of our community by implementing remote learning and work in keeping with social distancing best practices. We encourage our remaining students, and all community members regardless of location, to continue following public health recommendations, taking extra measures to sanitize surfaces, washing your hands frequently, and implementing social distancing. Read more steps you can take to protect yourself.

Coursework is continuing for our students remotely in fulfillment of our educational and research mission. As of March 21, all campus facilities and buildings, with the exception of those housing and supporting the 230 students who must remain on campus, will be closed. This includes on-campus research operations. This action complies with Governor Tom Wolf’s order directing all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations. Only essential operations will continue on campus, and all other employees are being asked to work remotely as effectively as possible.

At the highest levels across the university, we are actively monitoring the situation and seeking the most current information and health expertise to inform our guidance, recognizing that the situation is fast-moving and fluid. We continue to send frequent updates to the campus community.

Lehigh University Libraries has developed a Coronavirus Resources: Publications, Data, and Staying Safe page to provide practically useful links to sources of information from government agencies/health authorities about the Coronavirus pandemic, and to provide access to scholarly and popular resources relating to the pandemic.

Coursework

LTS has created Preparing for Remote Learning: Ten Crucial Steps for Students, a guide that provides crucial steps Lehigh students should take to help maintain academic productivity.

The Office of Registration and Academic Services has prepared a page with detailed information regarding academics, general services and more.

Several new developments have led us to conclude that conducting classes remotely for the remainder of the semester (through the end of final exams on Wednesday, May 13) is necessary and in the best interest of the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and of the greater Bethlehem community.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in the Lehigh Valley as of March 12. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified a significantly larger number of countries classified as Warning Level 3 and at this time, there is now a Global Alert Level 2, indicating the rapid progression of COVID-19 worldwide. The World Health Organization has designated COVID-19 a pandemic.

This confirms the advice we are receiving from health professionals that the virus will continue to spread in the Lehigh Valley beyond two weeks (as originally planned). While we have no positive cases on the Lehigh campus, health professionals continue to advise that social distancing helps reduce the rate of the spread of the virus. We have an obligation to prevent large groups from coming together in classroom settings and in close living quarters.

Housing services is providing the opportunity to move out of residences for those who choose to, and has provided followup instructions via email. For those who do not choose to, or are unable to, move out at this time, your items can remain in your room and we will be following up at a later date with additional instructions.

For questions related to your courses, the course instructor should be your main point of contact. If you have additional questions, your college associate dean’s office can also be a resource.

In recognition of the challenges we face with the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, we are altering the semester grading system for undergraduate students for the Spring 2020 semester. Undergraduate students may select credit grades rather than letter grades for their courses. Students may choose on a course-by-course basis, and may make this decision until a week after they receive semester grades. For more information, see the full announcement.

Residential Life

Residential undergraduate students who are unable to return home due to extreme circumstances should submit a request to remain on campus. In order to fill out the Move Out Form, please visit your Housing and Dining Self-Service Page. Click on applications on the left side of the screen then click on Move Out Form and fill out the request form. Note: This form is only accessible to students. Graduate students living in Saucon Village, Packer House, and 230 West Packer have been sent separate instructions via email.

Undergraduate students currently residing off-campus are strongly encouraged to return to their permanent homes. For undergraduate students living in off-campus housing, access to campus and university resources such as the libraries, dining, and the recreation/fitness center will be extremely limited. If you must remain in off-campus housing, the same social distancing directives and guidance apply (avoid group meetings or gatherings.) Please stay in your house or apartment if you can. If you are required to venture out, be vigilant about keeping as much distance from others as possible.

Of course, you should continue to practice good hygiene as well, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control: wash your hands regularly and thoroughly; avoid touching your mouth and nose with unwashed hands; cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough; stay home if you are sick. You can learn more here >

We continue to monitor the flow of people on campus and to adjust operations to encourage social distancing. Please note that for this reason, access to in-person campus resources will be significantly limited.

  • Access to on-campus residence halls will be turned off unless the student has applied for, and received, permission to live on campus. Access to Coxe Hall is available to all students between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. for the International Affairs Office.
  • Beginning Tuesday, March 17, campus buildings will be locked and accessible only by card access.
  • Taylor Gym will be closed for cleaning until further notice.
  • Linderman Library and Fairchild-Martindale Library are closed.
  • Parking and Transportation Services has made the following changes to the parking policies and transportation schedules. These changes are intended to provide individuals with direct access to locations and to help eliminate unnecessary personal contact and travel between locations during a time when social distancing is encouraged.
  • We encourage all members of the campus community who remain in the area to practice social distancing and other preventative health measures that support not only the health of campus, but also the greater community.

We will be issuing credits and refunds for Lehigh housing, parking and dining plan costs on a prorated basis for the time period undergraduate students are not parking on campus, living in residence halls or using meal plans. Undergraduate students will have the ability to request a refund or allow the credit to be applied to future bills. Refunds do not apply to off-campus rentals or facilities that the university does not own or operate, such as SouthSide Commons. Please contact your landlord or housing manager for additional information regarding their housing policies and any questions that you may have about your lease. Read the email sent to students and families >

For any students--graduate, undergraduate, domestic or international--who are experiencing financial hardship and do not have the resources to purchase travel home, we can work with you on these concerns. As we have already started using our housing system to track some requests, this remains the best system to gather information and respond to residential students. Therefore, students who live in Lehigh University on-campus housing can request support by visiting your Housing and Dining Self-Service page. Click on “Applications” on the left side of the screen then click on “Move Out Form” to complete the request form.

Students who live off-campus can request support through the Emergency Aid form. Additionally, any student with concerns about necessary technology resources to work remotely can use the Emergency Aid form to request support as well. All requests will be reviewed by the offices of the Dean of Students, Financial Aid and International Affairs. (Please note: Ignore any reference to “undergraduate students” on this application form for this situation. All students are eligible to apply.)

Read the full message sent to all undergraduate and graduate students >

Research & Graduate Studies

Research
The Office of Research and Graduate Studies has provided a page with more information on laboratory preparation and related guidance for researchers. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Graduate Students
The Graduate Life Office created a COVID-19 information page to address questions specific to graduate students. Please visit this page for details about graduate student funding and the work of teaching assistants, research assistants and graduate assistants, as well as information about financial need, health and wellness, and other available support.

Employees

As of March 21, all campus facilities and buildings, with the exception of those housing and supporting the 230 students who must remain on campus, will be closed. This includes on-campus research operations. This action complies with Governor Tom Wolf’s order directing all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations. Only essential operations will continue on campus, and all other employees are being asked to work remotely as effectively as possible.

As communicated previously, supervisors should communicate with staff about who is considered essential and how this work will get done. In all cases where an employee is working from home, their manager is responsible for making sure all equipment and security is in place for distance work. Library and Technology Services is offering workshops designed to help you continue your work from off campus. LTS has also created a resource for maintaining productivity while working remotely.

We encourage all members of the campus community to practice common-sense preventative measures such as washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, covering your cough with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Additional tips regarding wellness are below.

Consult with your personal physician about your own individual health decisions.

Refer to this CDC guide for keeping the workplace healthy.

Effective immediately and until June 30, 2020, staff will be allotted an additional ten (10) days of sick leave if they exhaust their available sick leave bank. Staff may use their sick leave bank as well as the ten additional days to care for a sick family member who lives in the employee’s home. Refer to the COVID-19 Guidance for Staff email you received for further information.

Managers were instructed to develop an Emergency Staffing Succession Plan that identifies roles/people and their back-ups who are required to maintain critical university functions. Some staff members have been designated as Temporary Essential Personnel. Staff designated “Essential Personnel” or “Temporary Essential Personnel” will not receive additional pay but may qualify for compensatory time off. *Not all employees designated “Essential” under regular circumstances may be considered essential during the closure. For additional information, consult the COVID-19 Guidance for Staff email you received.

We are aware there are select circumstances where non-essential personnel are unable to perform their job duties remotely. We have made the decision to continue to pay all Lehigh employees for the foreseeable future. We would emphasize that everyone should be making every effort to work remotely as effectively as possible.

The situation with regard to coronavirus is changing by the day and we appreciate your collective efforts and cooperation as we join together as a campus community at this challenging time. We know that many of you are juggling additional personal responsibilities along with your work at Lehigh as you strive to keep yourselves and your families healthy.

We recognize this is a difficult time for faculty, staff and families. Lehigh medical benefits include behavioral health coverage. To access these services under Lehigh’s medical plan call the phone number listed on the back of your Capital Blue Cross Card. In addition, Lehigh's Employee Assistance Program (Integrated Behavioral Health) can be helpful for you and your dependents even if you don't participate in the Lehigh medical plan.

Events, Meetings and Gatherings

As of March 18, all non-essential gatherings of 10 or more people are strongly discouraged until communicated otherwise. Organizers should postpone meetings and events, or consider remote technology.

Note: On March 16, following CDC guidance, we communicated that events for 50 or more individuals were to be prohibited through at least the end of the academic year on Wednesday, May 13, with the potential of being extended to a later timeframe.

Guidance from our health professionals and the CDC indicates that holding this year's Commencement activities, originally scheduled for Sunday, May 17, through Monday, May 18, would put our community at great health risk.

As such, no activities will take place on these original dates, and we will postpone the Commencement Ceremony originally scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18. To be clear, Commencement is not canceled, and we look forward to holding this celebratory event for the Class of 2020 in Goodman Stadium later this year.

In addition, we will plan to hold a virtual celebration at the end of the academic year. Degrees will be conferred and diplomas will be mailed at the end of the academic year as originally planned. The doctoral hooding ceremony will also be postponed. We recognize there are other meaningful recognition ceremonies and activities impacted, and updates will be communicated as needed.

We recognize the traditional in-person ceremony is meaningful to our students and families, and we hope that by postponing the ceremony, many of you will still be able to partake in this momentous occasion. We also recognize that for some families, traveling to campus at this later date may be difficult, and so by providing a virtual celebration in addition to the physical celebration, we can provide our graduating students with an appropriate and much-deserved recognition of their accomplishments. The Lehigh University Commencement website will be updated with new information frequently, including answers to questions about regalia and other items.

Read the message from President Simon >

Travel

  • Domestic Travel- As the instances of COVID-19 increase within the United States, U.S. officials are moving from focusing on the containment of the virus to mitigating its effect as it spreads. As of March 9, we strongly encourage you to reconsider all non-essential university-related domestic travel. We will continue to monitor and provide updated guidance as needed.
  • We strongly encourage you to exercise caution and use your best judgment for your personal domestic travel.
  • International travel - Faculty and staff have been advised not to travel on Lehigh business to CDC Alert Level 2, Warning Level 3, or State Department Warning Level 4 countries. For all international travel the CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Warning Level 3 countries and recommends postponing travel for older adults and those with chronic medical conditions to Alert Level 2 countries.
  • Self-monitor- to mitigate the risk of bringing the virus to campus, all faculty, staff, students, and visitors who traveled to countries designated by the CDC as a “Warning Level 3” country should self-monitor for 14 days and be symptom-free before coming to campus:
  • Please remember this list is changing frequently: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices
  • As of 3/12, the CDC has designated the Alert Level 2 globally.
  • We are expecting that, as responsible community members, if these criteria apply, that individuals will uphold these requirements and do their part in ensuring the health and safety of our community.
  • This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation and recommendations are subject to change. As individuals make travel plans, please be aware that although you may be able to leave the U.S. and go to other countries, there is always the possibility that you may experience difficulty returning depending on how this situation evolves.
  • Travelers should refer to the CDC website for the most up-to-date information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

Study abroad

The Lehigh Study Abroad Office has been in direct and regular communication with all students who are currently studying abroad, and their families, regarding ongoing guidance. The safety of our community members is our top priority.

Lehigh has directed all students studying abroad in countries designated CDC Warning Level 3 to return to the United States.

Lehigh partners with a variety of study abroad program providers for semester study abroad. Each provider has its own risk management procedures, and providers may issue different guidance to students.

Many of our study abroad partners are allowing students to continue their coursework online. We are working with students individually to develop academic plans that help them stay on track for credit hours and time to graduation.

We are suspending all Lehigh-led study abroad programs, including international internships occurring before August 1, and will continue to provide updated information after that date. Program directors will communicate with their students about alternative options and fee refunds. This decision does not currently affect plan for fall study abroad.

Program changes are assessed by Lehigh’s International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC), which is in direct contact with International SOS (ISOS), the university’s medical and security assistance provider and leaders in international travel and education. ITAC evaluates programs on several factors, including travel advisories from the U.S. State Department and safety and security guidance from ISOS, guidance from the CDC and similar international organizations, the availability and quality of healthcare in the program location, and the accessibility of transportation to and from the program location.

International Students

Health and Wellness

  • At the highest levels across the university, we are actively monitoring the situation and seeking the most current information and health expertise to inform our guidance, recognizing that the situation is fast-moving and fluid. We continue to send frequent updates to the campus community.
  • A group of senior leaders has established ongoing meetings to ensure Lehigh’s short- and long-term preparedness.
  • Our Health and Wellness team also continues to be in frequent communication with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), the Bethlehem Health Bureau, and local healthcare entities regarding their recommendations, and is reviewing guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Campus staff are taking extra measures to sanitize surfaces and provide resources to prevent germs. We are placing additional hand sanitizers at the entrance to libraries, residence halls and dining facilities, completing extra cleanings of bathrooms and common spaces, and wiping down surfaces frequently. We are also stocking additional supplies such as sanitizers, soap, and paper towels. Campus staff will also be using an electrolyzed all-natural, non-toxic water solution to clean throughout residence hall lounges, common areas and classrooms.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS and SARS. When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.

Read up-to-date criteria on the CDC website for symptoms of COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms you believe are in line with COVID-19, please consult with your physician immediately. If you are a student on campus, contact the Health and Wellness Center. To be seen at the Health & Wellness Center you must call 610-758-3870. Do not walk into the Health & Wellness Center without calling first. The HWC will be making additional consultation services available remotely.

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

  • The Health & Wellness Center remains open, but will offer limited on-campus services. To be seen at the Health & Wellness Center you must call 610-758-3870 to schedule an appointment. Do not walk into the Health & Wellness Center without calling first. Read more about the Health & Wellness Center. The HWC will be making additional consultation services available remotely.
  • In these times of significant stress, counselors from University Counseling and Psychological Services are available for support and welcome and invite students to call the center to help address their concerns and anxiety to support their coping. They can be reached at 610-758-3880, or if this number is busy, please call 610-758-5183, Mon. - Fri. 8am-5pm. Overnight on-call services are also available and students can be connected to a clinician calling this same number.

  • Get vaccinated against the Flu! Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school due to the flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Unfortunately there is no vaccine available to protect you against the viruses that cause the common cold.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash them for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Viruses that cause respiratory infections can live on your hands, and regular handwashing can help protect you from getting sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Viruses that cause respiratory infections can enter your body this way and make you sick.
  • Stay away from people who are sick. Sick people can spread viruses that cause these infections through close contact with others.

  • If you are sick with cold or flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine), except to get medical care or for other necessities.
  • Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.
  • Move away from people before coughing or sneezing.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose.
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as keyboards and doorknobs.

  • There is no cure for a cold or the flu. To feel better, you need to get plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids.
  • Over-the-counter medicines may help ease many symptoms.
  • If you are diagnosed with the flu, you may be prescribed antiviral medications such as Tamiflu. Antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

Athletics

The Patriot League Council of Presidents announced that all winter competitions and all spring athletics practices and competitions will be canceled through the remainder of the academic year.

In addition, all Lehigh Athletics alumni events and banquets have been cancelled.

Given the rapidly changing environment regarding the ongoing spread of COVID 19 these decisions were made to protect the safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, and campus communities.

General Information

Travel Information

Additional Resources

Other common respiratory infections

News Coverage

A Message from President John Simon

Messages to Campus

Below are messages sent by university leadership on COVID-19: