Image
null

Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

Guidance for Staff and Faculty

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2021 at 4:01 pm

Lehigh’s faculty and staff are central to the university’s function of supporting students and elevating its research and educational mission. Read more below for work-related resources.

Guiding Principles

  1. Provide the best Lehigh education and experience for students that is possible in these circumstances
  2. Protect the health and safety of all members of the Lehigh community
  3. Uphold our principles of equity and community as we balance the previous two principles. Equity does not mean that all people are treated equally, but that all people are treated equitably and according to their needs.

Forms, Tools and Guidance

Featured Updates

Summary of COVID Testing Options- Testing options available to students, faculty and staff. 

9.3.21: Instructor Notification of COVID-Positive Students in Courses- A message sent to faculty and instructional staff

9.2.21: New Health and Safety Measures- A message sent to the Lehigh community and Lehigh families. 

8.30.21: Classroom Guidance in the Event of a Positive Student COVID Test- A message sent to faculty and staff

 

Individual Responsibility to Observe Public Health Directives

Faculty and staff are required to adhere to all safety protocols and guidelines while on campus.

Illness or Exposure Protocols

Faculty and staff must continue to monitor personal health for symptoms and risk of exposure. 

If you don’t feel well, stay home and notify your supervisor or department chair. If you arrive on campus and begin to feel symptoms consistent with COVID-19, immediately notify your supervisor or department chair and go home. You should contact your primary care physician first and follow their advice, including scheduling a COVID-19 test, if recommended. Contact the university’s Employee Health Nurse Case Manager from Lehigh Valley Health Network, Christine Wolfe, RN, at 610-861-8080 ext. 23504 or Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org and notify her of your condition.

Any faculty or staff member who has been on campus or in close proximity to other Lehigh community members and receives a positive COVID-19 test result must notify Christine Wolfe and notify Lehigh by following the instructions in the COVID-19 Return to Campus Employee Health Guide. The Employee Health Nurse Care Manager will need to clear you for return to work and will facilitate appropriate contact tracing. Those who test positive and have not been on campus or in close proximity are still encouraged to contact her. She serves as the key point of contact for Lehigh employees for any health concerns related to COVID-19 and facilitates care through recovery and return to work for any employees who suspect exposure or may test positive for COVID-19, working closely with Lehigh Human Resources throughout the process.

Full information about Lehigh's partnership with LVHN for COVID-19 related employee health services can be found here

Note to supervisors and department chairs: Staff and faculty are not required to divulge that the reason for their absence is due to a COVID-19 isolation or quarantine. However, if they choose to share this with you, treat this as confidential information and follow up with Christine Wolfe or Human Resources to make sure the information and all services are being extended.

Community Expectations

All community members must agree and commit to adhere to national, state and local health guidelines as well as any additional measures implemented by Lehigh.  We must hold each other accountable.

If you experience or witness a situation in which members of our community, regardless of whether they are students, faculty, staff, or visitors are not adhering to these standards, there are several options available to you, up to and including reporting the behavior.

University faculty, staff or students shall not retaliate against any individual who, acting in good faith, reports suspected or actual wrongful conduct.

Frequently Asked Questions

Enter a word or phrase

Staff may use any type of paid leave to accommodate the need to stay home or leave campus early. Staff have also been allotted an additional ten (10) days of sick leave if they exhaust their current available sick leave bank due to COVID19-related illness. The period during which the allotted additional sick leave may be used has been extended through December 31, 2021. Staff may also use their sick leave bank and the ten additional days (if their sick leave bank is exhausted) in order to care for a sick family member who lives in the employee’s home, and has a COVID19-related illness.

If you are out of work because you have been quarantined due to possible exposure to COVID19 or have tested positive for COVID19 yourself, follow the instructions regarding illness or exposure on the HR website.

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. If the instructor becomes symptomatic or receives a positive COVID test result, the instructor should shift the class 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.

Based on data from Lehigh and across the country, we have no evidence that in-person instruction while masked is a significant source of transmission. Instructors who choose to shift to remote-only instruction should: 1. send an email to their chair indicating their plan for instruction for the coming week and 2. inform students of this planned shift. Faculty should indicate to students how they plan to support students who need to be in isolation. We understand that some students are hesitant to report a positive test for fear of falling behind in classes. All faculty have been instructed to work with students to ensure their ability to keep up with coursework if they need to quarantine or isolate. 

No. In the interest of further reducing the potential for transmission, masks must be worn in classes at all times, with no exception for eating or drinking.

No. In fact, once an individual has tested positive, they should not be tested again for 90 days from the date symptoms started or the date of the positive test. (This policy is based on CDC guidance and reduces the rate of false positives.) For this reason, once the isolation period has been completed and an individual is cleared to return to work or school, evidence of a negative test is not required. When in doubt about when you are able to end isolation, always follow the guidance provided by the HWC (for students) or Lehigh’s LVHN occupational health nurse (for faculty and staff). 

 

In rare cases, ongoing symptoms could mean a longer isolation period is warranted, but in general, COVID-19 remains infectious no longer than 10 days after symptoms begin. 

Anyone who is partially vaccinated and in the process of actively pursuing full COVID vaccination, or who receives an approved medical or religious exemption and is unvaccinated, will be required to:

  • Participate in mandatory COVID surveillance testing
  • Follow CDC guidelines for quarantining if they are identified as a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID
  • Continue to wear a mask indoors, even if the universal masking requirement is lifted 
  • Complete a daily symptom self-assessment to gain building access
     

If you experience or witness a situation in which members of our community, regardless of whether they are students, faculty, staff, or visitors are not adhering to these standards, you have the following options:

  1. If you can safely address the concern directly with the individual or group, you may do so by reminding them of University standards and our shared responsibility in promoting a healthy, safe and inclusive learning and working environment. Supervisors are expected to address these issues with their direct reports. 

  2. If addressing the concern directly is not an option, or if you are not satisfied with the response you receive or the behavior doesn’t stop, you may report the concern by completing this form at http://lehigh.edu/go/covidreporting.  While we encourage you to provide your name and contact information with this form so that the CRT may follow-up with you, if necessary, you may also submit this report anonymously.  

If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, whether you are unvaccinated or vaccinated--follow the established protocols, including contacting your medical provider to be tested, staying home and away from others to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus, and following any isolation protocols should you test positive for COVID. 

If an instructor becomes symptomatic or receives a positive COVID test result, the instructor should shift the class 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. If the instructor is too sick to teach, the class can be rescheduled or an alternative instructor can be found. 

 

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect our community and allow for a return to normal campus operations. Noncompliance with the vaccination requirement will result in employees not having access to campus facilities and will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy. 

Faculty and staff requesting a medical exemption will be required to provide information about the specific medical issue that prevents them from safely being vaccinated. Medical exemption requests must be accompanied by documentation from a treating physician. Medical exemption requests will be reviewed by a committee comprising representation from the Provost’s Office, Human Resources, and medical professionals.

Faculty and staff requesting a religious exemption are asked to provide a brief personal statement explaining why the COVID-19 vaccine is against their religious beliefs and why they are requesting this religious exemption (including any supporting documentation of their belief from a religious body). Their statement must also indicate whether other immunizations are against their religious beliefs (in other words, do they also object to the flu or other vaccines for religious reasons, or do they only object to COVID). Religious exemptions are granted for those who have demonstrated sincerely held religious beliefs against vaccination and who submitted the required documentation to support their request. Social, political, and economic beliefs and philosophies, or personal preferences, do not constitute religious beliefs. Religious exemptions will be reviewed by a Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising faculty and staff representatives, including the Chaplain’s Office and Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator.

 

Contact tracing is done for all students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID. For students, close contacts include roommates, suitemates, housemates, apartment mates and not fully vaccinated hallmates.  

Students who are not fully vaccinated (fully vaccinated is defined as two weeks after individuals receive the final dose of an FDA- or WHO-authorized or approved vaccine) and are identified as close contacts will be notified to quarantine and recommended to test. Students who are fully vaccinated and are identified as close contacts will be notified and recommended to test but do not need to quarantine.

For classrooms, the Provost’s Office will provide information to instructors and students when a student in their class tests positive. The name of the student case will not be shared with the instructors or other students. In these instances, everyone in the class will be directed to self-monitor for COVID symptoms. Anyone (students, faculty and staff) who was notified or believes they are a close contact may sign up for close contact testing here, even if they are not symptomatic. You must schedule an appointment through the link

If a student becomes symptomatic, they must contact the HWC at 610-758-3870 to get tested as soon as possible. They should not come to class or engage in group activities until receiving a confirmed negative test result. Symptomatic employees should contact the university’s Employee Health Nurse Case Manager from Lehigh Valley Health Network at 610-861-8080 ext. 23504 or at Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org to arrange for symptomatic testing.

All faculty and staff were required to confirm that they are fully vaccinated or are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated or apply for a medical or religious exemption by Monday, August 30, 2021. Faculty and staff received an email on August 17 with instructions on how to complete this process. If you have not received this email, please contact invax@lehigh.edu.

Faculty and staff received an email on August 17 with instructions on how to complete this process. If you have not received this email, please contact invax@lehigh.edu.

Faculty requesting a medical exemption will be required to provide information about the specific medical issue that prevents them from safely being vaccinated. For faculty, these requests will be reviewed by the Provost’s office, in consultation with medical professionals. For staff, the process will be similar, with the Office of Human Resources reviewing the requests in consultation with medical professionals. Religious exemptions will be reviewed by a Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising faculty and staff representatives, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator.

Provost Urban provided guidance in the message linked here.

All faculty and staff are required to be fully vaccinated and submit their vaccination status or request a medical or religious exemption from the vaccination requirement using the COVID-19 Vaccine Certification Form they received via email by Monday, August 30, 2021. Faculty and staff are asked to certify that the information they provided is truthful and accurate. The university may follow up to request additional verification at any time, including asking for a copy of vaccination cards.

 

If you are vaccinated, LVHN offers COVID testing for those without symptoms and for those experiencing symptoms. You can obtain a test at many local health centers and pharmacies as well. See the Pennsylvania Department of Health site or Lehigh’s HWC site for lists of local testing resources. For insurance purposes, it may be important to obtain a test in your county of residence or via your primary healthcare provider. 

Surgical masks will be available from the labstore, located in Seeley-Mudd free of charge to faculty and staff. The labstore is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to  2:00 pm (more info here). Deliveries can be arranged for departments or offices if travel to the labstore is not possible. 

 

Masks are required in all indoor public and common spaces regardless of vaccination status. This requirement applies to all students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Our community has emphasized the importance of vaccination, and more than 95% of students are fully or partially vaccinated. Because of this high vaccination rate, we are prioritizing contact tracing on and off campus for higher-risk contacts, which includes not fully vaccinated students living in residence halls and both vaccinated and not fully vaccinated roommates in traditional residence halls, suitemates in apartment-style living, and intimate partners. While there has not been evidence of transmission occurring in classrooms, contact tracing is also conducted when a student or faculty member in a class tests positive for COVID.  For classrooms, the Provost’s Office will provide information to instructors and students when a student in their class tests positive. The name of the student case will not be shared with the instructors or other students. In these instances, everyone in the class will be directed to self-monitor for COVID symptoms. If a student becomes symptomatic, they must contact the HWC at 610-758-3870 to get tested as soon as possible. They should not come to class or engage in group activities until receiving a confirmed negative test result. Symptomatic employees should contact the university’s Employee Health Nurse Case Manager from Lehigh Valley Health Network at 610-861-8080 ext. 23504 or at Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org to arrange for symptomatic testing.

The safety and well-being of the Lehigh community are our highest priority as we strive to provide the educational environment and workplace that students, faculty and staff expect. While no vaccine provides a guarantee against infection, COVID vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness and death and continues to be the best protection against the spread of new and more contagious variants of the virus.

In addition, widespread vaccination will support the health and safety of the campus community and help us to achieve and sustain a safe and successful semester with more normal activity on campus, including in-person classes, in-person events, full density, and other elements of the full campus experience.

Providing confirmation of vaccination signifies that faculty and staff attest to the accuracy and truthfulness of the information provided. While this system will allow us to collect vaccination information expediently at the beginning of the semester, the university may ask for follow-up documentation (vaccination card) and verification. The university also is aware of general reports nationally and globally of vaccination cards being fabricated illegally; any such action by a Lehigh community member would be cause for termination (for faculty and staff) and suspension or expulsion (for students).  

 

No. Studies show that people infected with COVID may be contagious for up to 10 days after symptom onset; therefore, CDC guidance and our policy is that people must remain in isolation for 10 days following a positive test or symptom onset. We have received questions regarding whether a negative test following a positive test would be sufficient to end isolation or to show that a positive test was a false positive. A positive PCR test (which includes all of the testing options offered by Lehigh) is a true positive per medical guidance. Getting a follow-up test after having a confirmed positive test result puts other medical providers who are administering the follow-up test at risk of getting COVID, reduces testing availability and is not sufficient for eliminating or reducing the length of the required isolation period. A positive test from Vault or testing through the Health and Wellness Center (HWC) is positive and will be treated as such through the duration of the isolation period. For more information, visit the CDC website


This guidance also applies to individuals who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. Fully vaccinated asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus, so a lack of COVID-related symptoms does not mean you are not spreading COVID if you test positive.

No. While an individual always has the option of sharing their vaccination status personally, the university will not share someone's vaccination status or personal information. Please also note that while widespread vaccination will provide for substantive protection from the virus, individuals may choose to wear masks or practice other health and safety protocols in various settings. For example, because someone is choosing to wear a mask (beyond any university requirements), complete the symptom checker, or complete other protocols is not necessarily indicative of their vaccination status. All members of the community are encouraged to treat one another with respect.     

With the exception of structured activities such as lecture and laboratory classes, we will limit all gatherings to no more than 25 people in attendance indoors and encourage outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings whenever possible. 

 

Faculty or staff should not request information about students’ vaccination status. If a student volunteers such information, faculty must not ask about the reasons why a student is or is not vaccinated. The university will not share confidential health information.

To better support the health and safety of Lehigh faculty and staff as we return to campus, the University has partnered with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) for occupational health services and for medical consultation for planning purposes. The partnership includes an LVHN Employee Health Nurse Case Manager who will serve as the key point of contact for Lehigh employees with any health concerns related to COVID-19. The nurse case manager will facilitate care through recovery and return to work for any employees who suspect exposure or test positive for COVID-19, working closely with Lehigh Human Resources throughout the process. 

For more information, visit the Human Resources website.

Some staff members may still feel uncomfortable coming to campus due to concerns about their health. 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, you may submit a confidential request for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act by submitting these forms through email at incovada@lehigh.edu.

Request for Reasonable Accommodation

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 flexplace arrangements, flexible 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.

For all undergraduate and graduate students:

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, including those living off-campus, the student must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days. Refer to our isolation and quarantining protocol for what to expect if you live on or off campus. Remember that if you receive a positive test result from testing conducted outside of the HWC, you must report your result by uploading it to the Patient Portal. This applies if you live on or off campus.

For faculty and staff:

Any faculty or staff member who has been on campus or in close proximity to other Lehigh community members and receives a positive COVID-19 test result should self-isolate, follow a primary care physician’s advice, notify your supervisor or department chair of your absence, and notify Lehigh by contacting the university’s Employee Health Nurse Case Manager from Lehigh Valley Health Network, Christine Wolfe, RN, at 610-861-8080 ext. 23504 or Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org. Christine serves as the key point of contact for Lehigh employees for any health concerns related to COVID-19. She facilitates care through recovery and return to work for any employees who suspect exposure or may test positive for COVID-19, working closely with Lehigh Human Resources throughout the process. Christine must clear you for your return to work, and she will do so depending on your particular condition and using the most updated CDC guidance at the time.

Supervisors and department chairs, staff and faculty are not required to divulge that the reason for their absence is due to a COVID-19 isolation or quarantine. However, if they choose to share this with you, treat this as confidential information and follow up with Christine Wolfe or Human Resources to make sure the information and all services are being extended.

For more information on Lehigh’s COVID-19 related health services partnership with LVHN, follow this link.

In all cases where a student, faculty or staff member tests positive COVID-19 and was on campus, Facilities Services is notified to conduct the cleaning and sanitization process of any physical spaces, as needed.

For students:

We have prepared guidance on what to do if you are feeling sick and suspect you have COVID-19. Read more about COVID-19 symptoms, treatment and on-campus testing for students on this page. > Students living on- or off-campus who believe they have symptoms in line with COVID-19 should call the Lehigh Health and Wellness Center (HWC) at 610-758-3870. If you are living on campus, the HWC will assist with determining if you need to be relocated to on-campus isolation housing and the provisions for how you will receive care and support during the time you are isolating. 

For students who are experiencing symptoms, we have partnered with the Lehigh Valley Health Network as a supplemental resource to provide access to their 24/7 nurse triage line (1-888-402-LVHN). Speak with a nurse to assess COVID and other symptoms, answer your questions, and discuss your testing options. A video visit is also an option. Additional information will be published on our website. For those who are tested at an alternate location, be aware that if you are not taking a rapid test, your results may take several days to be processed. If you receive a positive test from an outside source, be sure to let the Health and Wellness Center know and to upload your results on your health center portal.

For faculty and staff:

Faculty or staff members with symptoms should stay home and notify your supervisor or department chair. If you arrive on campus and begin to feel symptoms consistent with COVID-19, immediately notify your supervisor or department chair and go home. You should contact your primary care physician first and follow their advice, including scheduling a COVID-19 test, if recommended. This testing can be done by your Primary Care Physician or can be coordinated through our occupational health services partnership with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). Any faculty or staff member who has been on campus or in close proximity to other Lehigh community members and receives a positive COVID-19 test result should self-isolate, follow a primary care physician’s advice, contact the university’s Employee Health Nurse Case Manager from Lehigh Valley Health Network, Christine Wolfe, RN, at 610-861-8080 ext. 23504 or Christine.Wolfe@lvhn.org and notify her of your condition.

Any individual, even if asymptomatic, who wishes to get tested can do so for a fee through Vault Health (the company we have contracted with for student arrival testing) or through a number of other providers. 

We would advise managers of units or supervisors of spaces to contact Facilities via incovmod@lehigh.edu for assistance in addressing any questions or concerns about their workspace(s). 

  • Isolation (minimum 10 days) separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Read more from the CDC about how to "Isolate If You Are Sick," including information about how long you should isolate. 
  • Quarantine (14 days) separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Read more from the CDC about "When to Quarantine," including a chart with guidance about when to start and end quarantine under various scenarios. The CDC provides options to shorten quarantine, which might include a 10-day quarantine combined with testing. Lehigh students, faculty and staff should follow the guidance provided by the Health and Wellness Center (for students) and Lehigh’s occupational health nurse from LVHN (for faculty and staff).

Read Lehigh's isolation and quarantine policy.

Visit the Office of Research and Graduate Studies page for more specific information. Email with additional questions.

Faculty with questions about medical exemptions or general information related to the process for submitting vaccination information should contact the Provost’s Office at provost@lehigh.edu and staff should contact Human Resources at inhro@lehigh.edu. For questions related to religious exemptions, contact the Religious Exemptions Request Review Committee by emailing increp@lehigh.edu.

 

Further information about the rigor of testing and trials to receive EUA approval is available on the FDA website. Data collected thus far indicate the COVID vaccines approved in the U.S. are very safe and effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID. Exemptions are available for students, faculty and staff who have a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief that supports exemption from the Lehigh COVID vaccination requirement. On August 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

Signs are downloadable for individual printing on the Resources page of this website.

We are limiting plexiglass to areas marked by frequent transactions or similar places of high interaction.  The dividers at these locations will remain in place at present.  We are not installing plexiglass at general locations at this time.

Normal cleaning processes will resume. Recent CDC guidance reported that in most cases cleaning alone removes virus particles on surfaces. Disinfection will be required in high risk/high contact areas like eatery entrances, the health center, testing areas, or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in a specific location within the last 24 hours.

After receiving notification and consulting with the Lehigh Health & Wellness Center, Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources and additional University leadership, LU Facilities will determine the extent of a closure, if needed. LU Facilities will then direct the deep-cleaning and sanitization of the space based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols prior to re-opening. Facilities may rely on a third-party industrial disinfection provider to sanitize areas for COVID-19 as needed.

Yes, we are continuing to maintain all our ventilation systems, including regularly scheduled filter replacement as per our regular operations. Where possible, HVAC systems that introduce fresh air into the buildings will have the percentage of outdoor air settings adjusted to maximize the amount of fresh air movement through the building. The percent of fresh air will be adjusted to as high as possible based on outdoor temperatures, humidity, and the capacity of the unit to heat/cool the desired percent of fresh air. All HVAC systems have received, and will continue to receive, regularly scheduled preventive maintenance. Filter changes will continue to follow ASHRAE guidelines. If you have any questions on your system or space please contact your building manager to review.

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.

That is up to the discretion of the group or department scheduling the meeting.  The University is encouraging everyone to assess when in-person may be more effective than zoom, and vice-versa

During the semester, the Lehigh COVID-19 Dashboard is updated daily during the week with the most current case information.

You can find information about Lehigh's Surveillance Testing program on our FAQ created specifically for testing.

Yes, they will remain in place for the fall semester.