Updated July 6: 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 during these extraordinary times. Check this page for ongoing updates and answers to frequently asked questions.

Quick Information:

Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 (Updated 7.6.20 at 5:30 p.m.)

Overview

Lehigh is tracking developments under Pennsylvania Governor Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania plan. As conditions in the valley continue to rapidly improve, we are authorized to begin a phased opening of campus and have begun with the resumption of faculty and graduate student research. Faculty and staff should refer to the information sent by the Task Force to Safety Open the Lehigh Campus regarding the phased reopening.

In-person instruction and on-campus housing will resume in August, subject to restrictions on classroom and housing capacity necessitated by social distancing. The academic semester will begin on August 24, as scheduled, and in-person instruction will end by Thanksgiving. Remote instruction after Thanksgiving will likely be needed to complete fall courses. Read the announcement >

All Lehigh courses offered during the summer of 2020 will continue to be delivered via remote instruction. Read the announcement >

On-campus summer programs were canceled through the end of July.

As we plan for the structured opening of campus and a return to in-person instruction, we recognize that not all of our students can physically return for all or part of the semester. For our international students, visa processing and travel delays could create barriers to coming to campus, and for those who live in other parts of the United States, a resurgence of the virus at home could prevent a safe return to campus. It is also certain that individual medical or other extenuating circumstances will impact some students, faculty and staff, requiring them to learn or work remotely. For these reasons, the majority of our fall curriculum will be offered in a way that works both for those who are on campus and also for those who are unable to be present in our classrooms. This approach will also allow us to be prepared if another outbreak occurs or state guidance forces us to stop in-person instruction, as happened in March.

Yes. More information regarding the updated housing process can be found on the Housing page.

The Housing Services team is in the process of creating a detailed housing plan taking into account preferences and considerations in light of the pandemic. Once the plan and assignments are completed, the next step will be outlining a move-in plan that supports the health and safety of students and families. We will be communicating this information with families as soon as possible.

Lehigh created four task forces that are working on how we open our campus, deliver a high-quality educational experience, address the financial implications of the pandemic and look to the future to ensure Lehigh emerges from this extraordinary time an even stronger university. Additional planning information will be made available on our website. We have received valuable feedback from students, parents, faculty and staff in the past several weeks that has guided the work of our planning task forces, and we continue to welcome comments and suggestions at inopen@lehigh.edu.

The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, as well as our neighbors in Bethlehem, are paramount. Our planning for resuming the residential academic experience is focused on creating the conditions that will allow us to do so safely. Every area of operation, from dining to transportation, is being assessed and modified to adhere to prevention measures. Our commitment to our community is to put into place the currently recommended best practices to promote health and safety on campus, including working to provide rapid access to COVID-19 testing for symptomatic students, faculty and staff.

We also call on the commitment from our community members to follow the four established pillars: social distancing, cloth face coverings, personal hygiene, and self-monitoring of symptoms with a strict stay-at-home policy for those who are sick. These measures taken by each member of our community serve to protect all of us collectively and enable us to fulfill our mission as a residential educational institution. Our whole campus will receive ongoing training about the coronavirus and how to keep our university community safe.

All students, faculty and staff will be required to complete training before returning and follow proper health protocols when on campus, including completing a daily self-screening (information forthcoming), washing hands frequently, and wearing a cloth face covering to minimize risk to other building occupants and the Lehigh community. On the Lehigh campus, face coverings are required to be worn in any public area, and in any circumstance where interacting with others on campus. Coverings may be removed when working in a private, single-occupancy office, or when eating. Lehigh will be providing a wellness/safety starter kit for all faculty, staff, and students, which will include masks, hand sanitizer, and other items.

The semester will look and feel different from a regular fall semester. In addition to regular self-monitoring of symptoms, there will be a number of other changes such as limits on the size of gatherings. Large lectures will almost certainly be conducted online, creating the opportunity for students and faculty to learn from one another in different ways. Social events held in person will require physical distancing measures and others will continue to grow and flourish online. The move-in process to our residence halls and houses will be structured to minimize close contact among people arriving in buildings at the same time. Dining on campus will include strict guidelines, and the grab-and-go options will be expanded. Libraries, informal gathering spaces, recreational facilities and residence hall common areas will have restrictions to comply with social distancing. Returning and new students, as well as all faculty and staff, will be required to complete training and acknowledge that they agree to uphold these community standards before returning to campus. These processes will feel different, and perhaps uncomfortable, but are necessary to protect our community.

The Lehigh admissions page has been updated with current information. Read the June 16 announcement, Lehigh Adopts Test-Optional Policy for Student Applicants During the 2020-21 Academic Year.

Academics

Registration & Academic Services may make important changes to the published schedule of courses, including shifting class days and times, room and lab assignments, and instructional modes. This will mean balancing students’ needs with the available space on campus. To help decide on the best arrangements that keep faculty, students and staff safe, RAS conducted a survey to gather information on student preferences for taking courses during the upcoming semester (specifically, in-person or remotely).

More information will be forthcoming. Please continue to monitor your Lehigh University email account regularly for important updates. If you have not already done so, we recommend configuring your phone with your Lehigh email, as this will continue to be your primary form of communication with the University. If you need assistance, Lehigh’s Library and Technology Services (LTS) has provided instructions for iOS devices and Android devices. If you have any questions, please email ras@lehigh.edu or reach out via live chat (M-F 9:00AM-4:00PM EDT).

No. Courses that are provided in a remote format can be completed remotely without having to request permission or submit any information to the university or course instructor, even if that course is also offered on campus and in person. We understand that some students will not be comfortable with returning to campus this fall and the choice to come to campus must reflect each students' circumstances.

All departments are currently in the process of preparing courses for the fall semester in a way that creates options for students who are on campus and for those who are not. We expect that most courses will have a remote option. When this is determined, departments or faculty advisors will provide information about which courses are available remotely and help identify suitable alternatives to fulfill requirements.

We anticipate that most courses will be offered remotely although some courses—such as lab and studio courses—may require some in person activity. We also are planning a range of activities in which students on campus can engage.

Research & Graduate Studies

Lehigh is currently following a phased approach to reopening on campus research activities. Visit the Office of Research and Graduate Studies page for more specific information. Email with additional questions.

Graduate students can find up-to-date information on the Graduate Studies COVID-19 information page. 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.

Faculty and Staff

Refer to the emails sent on June 22, June 9, and June 4 for information about the phased return to campus. Faculty, staff and graduate students are encouraged to continue working remotely through August 2. Faculty, staff, and graduate students needing to return to on-campus work prior to July 6 must request permission and access from their department chair or supervisor and follow the instructions in the email sent June 9. More details for requirements under each phase of the opening plan, including the current “Open II” phase between June 25 and July 5, can be found in the June 22 communication from the Task Force to Safely Open the Lehigh campus.

Prior to resuming on-campus work, all staff, faculty, and graduate students must complete the online COVID-19 Return to Work training via Course Site. The training includes a thorough explanation of all personal safety practices required of Lehigh community members. It also requires anyone wishing to work on campus to acknowledge and agree to abide by safety and hygiene protocols.

All faculty and staff must conduct a personal health self-screening each day before coming to campus. A self-screening tool will be available within the HawkWatch app by July 6.

Remember to stay home if you are feeling ill or have a fever and consult your healthcare provider. You will be required to comply with all on-campus safety and hygiene requirements, including wearing face coverings (masks), social distancing, and hand washing. In August, we will be providing a wellness/safety starter kit for all faculty, staff, and students, which will include masks, hand sanitizer, and other items.

Meetings should be held via Zoom, telephone, or by other device whenever possible and in person meetings should be limited in size as much as possible with strict social distancing and mask requirements in place.

 

We understand that even after the university has taken health and safety precautions, some staff, graduate students and faculty members may still feel uncomfortable coming to campus due to concerns about their own health or that of vulnerable loved ones. If you fall into the CDC-defined category of people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to a serious underlying medical condition (see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html), you may submit a confidential request for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, by submitting these COVID-19/Pandemic Specific forms through email at incovada@lehigh.edu:

COVID-19 Request for Reasonable Accommodation
COVID-19 Medical Information Request and Verification Form

If you are 65 years of age or older (another higher risk category defined by the CDC) or do not have an underlying medical condition but are generally concerned about returning to campus, please talk with your department chair or supervisor about modifications (such as remote work, flexible work schedules or workspace modifications) that may allow you to perform your position accountabilities effectively and productively. You may also consult with Human Resources at inhro@lehigh.edu to determine whether your circumstances may be addressed under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Refer to the email sent on June 1 regarding university actions in response to COVID-19, including information regarding temporary furloughs, senior leadership salary reductions, reducing expenses, and the suspension of retirement contributions.

Lehigh will be extending the additional sick leave provision (which had been set to expire on July 1) to December 31, 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.

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.

The Task Force to Safety Open the Lehigh Campus will be launching web-based guidance for the return to Lehigh, including assistance with changes to office/workspace layouts; securing PPE (if needed) and cleaning/sanitizing supplies; and acquiring signage to promote social distancing and hygiene. If you have any questions about these matters in the meantime, please email inreopen@lehigh.edu.

Events, Meetings and Gatherings

More information will be forthcoming regarding event restrictions in the fall.

The Commencement Ceremony originally scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, was postponed, and Lehigh held virtual celebrations to confer degrees and to honor the academic achievements of our graduates. We will keep the community informed of updates on the rescheduled in-person ceremony. 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 sent on March 31 >

Travel and Transportation

As shared in a university email regarding the reduction of expenses, while travel has been largely limited due to health and safety concerns, we will be limiting university travel for the foreseeable future. We understand that some travel will be required as we resume operations, but we ask that any travel that is non-essential be deferred.

International Students

The Office of International Students and Scholars has developed a page that answers questions that international students may have regarding the Fall 2020 semester.

Study Abroad

Lehigh-sponsored and Lehigh-led programs (Global Social Impact Fellows and Martindale) were suspended for August 2020. All other summer 2020 programs were also suspended. Our students who have applied for fall study abroad are working directly with program providers, who are continuing to adjust their schedules based on local conditions. ITAC will continue to monitor conditions that will affect study abroad programs directed by our partner providers.

Athletics

The Patriot League has announced that it is planning for a fall sports season. Student-athletes will return to campus at the same time as other students and Patriot League competition will begin at the end of September, with the expectation that League play will be completed prior to Thanksgiving. Non-League competition will not begin prior to Friday, Sept. 4. Lehigh will be working to outline the implications of this guidance for our programs, schedules, and COVID-19 management plans. More details can be found on the Lehigh Sports site >

Health and Safety

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. Our Health and Wellness Center is working to provide rapid access to COVID-19 testing for symptomatic students and providing resources for faculty and staff.

  • The Health & Wellness Center remains open. To be seen at the Health & Wellness Center, call 610-758-3870 to schedule an appointment. Do not walk into the Health & Wellness Center without calling first if you are experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms. Visit the Health & Wellness Center website for additional information.
  • 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.
  • Visit our "Coping with COVID-19" resource page for support services and wellness resources for the Lehigh community.

Any employee, student or visitor entering a University building must wear a cloth face covering to minimize risk to other building occupants and the Lehigh community. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has encouraged use of cloth face coverings when in public. On the Lehigh campus, face coverings are required to be worn in any public area, and in any circumstance where interacting with others on campus. Coverings may be removed when working in a private, single-occupancy office, or when eating. In August, we will be providing a wellness/safety starter kit for all faculty, staff, and students, which will include masks, hand sanitizer, and other items.

More information:

Our health professionals will be continuing to monitor local and state health guidelines and travel restrictions and will keep the community informed of any new restrictions. Regarding international restrictions, travelers should reference the updated guidance provided by the CDC's travel page for information impacting foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. These recommendations are also likely to evolve and may be different by August when students return to campus.

Messages to Campus

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

August Updates

July Updates

June Updates

May Updates

April Updates

March Updates

February Updates

January Updates