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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

All Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: Aug 24, 2022 at 9:08 am

Below is a cumulative list of all frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to COVID-19. For a list related to a specific audience, you can review those FAQs on the students and families page, the Lehigh faculty and staff page, or the campus visitors page.

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General

Masks are optional indoors and outdoors on Lehigh campuses, with the exception of the Health and Wellness Center and in specific contexts or where people who are at high risk for complications due to COVID are located. In these situations signage and/or other means will be used to communicate this requirement. Events, meetings and registrar-scheduled classes may be areas where masking is required by event organizers or instructors. Masks must continue to be worn around others for 10 full days when isolating in place after a positive COVID test and after an exposure to an individual who has tested positive for COVID; please follow CDC guidance in these cases. Masks are recommended on Lehigh buses.

We will continue to monitor data and guidance from the CDC and other public health sources, especially as it relates to data on new variants. In addition, we continue to strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Data continue to show that full vaccination is our best course of defense against serious illness from COVID and the threat of new variants. 

Wearing a mask protects others (by limiting virus transmission at the source) and yourself (by reducing the amount of virus that you inhale). Wearing a mask, especially a high quality mask (e.g. a N-95, KN-95 or KF-94) is effective in reducing the rate of COVID transmission, regardless of whether others are wearing masks in the environment regardless of whether others are wearing masks in the environment.

 

At-home antigen tests are widely available at pharmacies, and, in many cases, are covered by insurance. 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. 

Boosters

Noncompliance with the booster requirement for students will result in a hold being placed on the student's account which will prevent them from registering for classes for the following semester. Faculty and staff noncompliance will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy.

If your medical or religious circumstances have changed since receiving the original vaccination series and you intend to submit a new request for a medical or religious exemption from the booster requirement, you are required to do so by submitting the required information (for students, to the Health and Wellness Center).

Vaccine providers may not require you to show your vaccination card to get a booster or may be able to provide you with separate documentation that you received a booster. Check with your local vaccine provider for their processes and requirements. 

For faculty and staff, there are other forms of vaccination proof that may also be used for employer documentation. Refer to this list provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

Widespread vaccination in the fall allowed us to operate as an in-person campus. Given the waning effectiveness of vaccines over time, the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and mounting evidence that boosters provide additional protection against COVID, Lehigh is requiring the COVID booster as an extension of the university’s COVID vaccination requirement for all eligible students, faculty and staff who did not receive an approved medical or religious exemption.

Studies have shown that vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID, but vaccination protection against the virus and variants decreases over time. Boosters are a necessary component of our health and safety protocols to support a successful semester on campus, including in-person instruction and activities.

No. If you received a medical or religious exemption from COVID vaccination, you are not required to get a booster shot and do not need to take any further action.

When we analyzed surveillance testing data of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated Lehigh students in the fall, we saw that the COVID positivity rate in vaccinated students was about 30% of the rate in unvaccinated students. These results suggest that vaccinations protected students from infection, consistent with data from published studies

Our analysis also showed that protection was less in students who were vaccinated in early spring vs. those who were vaccinated in mid to late summer, suggesting that vaccine effectiveness in preventing infection waned over time. This reduced effectiveness is one reason why we believe that boosters are important for maintaining in-person activities in the spring. Finally, while no vaccine is a guarantee against infection, they are extremely effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization from infection, and the booster may be needed to maintain this protection, as indicated by an uptick in hospitalizations for the vaccinated but not boosted. (The relative rate of cases is 5 times higher for the unvaccinated and death rates are 13 times higher for the unvaccinated.)

Data published by the CDC indicate that booster shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preventing infections AND reducing the likelihood of hospitalization and urgent medical visits. Read more

Yes. Studies show immunity from a vaccine may be more reliable and provide more long-term protection. The CDC recommends that all eligible people get a booster shot, even if they’ve had COVID. In particular, prior infection is likely to provide poor protection against the Omicron variant.  Read more on the CDC website

People who should wait to get vaccinated - “If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma while sick with COVID-19, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma after you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 to prevent you from getting sick, you should wait 30 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your healthcare professional if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“If you or your child have a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults or children (MIS-A or MIS-C), consider delaying vaccination until you have recovered from being sick and for 90 days after the date of diagnosis of MIS-A or MIS-C.”

 

Yes. Please see the guidance that was sent to students linked here

The CDC offers more guidance on boosters, including eligibility, on the CDC website and Vaccines.gov provides location information for COVID vaccines and boosters.

International students who cannot get boosted where they are located should schedule a booster as soon as they return to the United States. Send a secure message to the Health and Wellness Center through the Patient Portal and they will be able to log your individual situation and advise on any further questions about your vaccination/booster schedule. 

The university is developing a new process for faculty and staff to confirm their vaccination status. Details will be forthcoming

General Vaccine Information

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.     

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. 

Yes. Prior COVID illness does not qualify as an approved medical exemption from the Lehigh student COVID vaccination requirement. If you have questions about when it is safe for you to get the vaccine, contact the Health and Wellness Center to review your individual situation by sending a secure message through the Patient Portal

View the CDC's answers to frequently asked questions here and under "If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?"  

Also under: "Can I get vaccinated against COVID-19 while I am currently sick with COVID-19?"

Additionally, recent studies point to vaccines generating stronger immune responses than getting COVID and likely protect better against viral variants:

  • Substantial Differences in SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Responses Elicited by Natural Infection and mRNA Vaccination - “The results show that naturally-exposed individuals mount a stronger anti-spike response upon vaccination than individuals that were not previously exposed ... Longitudinal specimens taken at approximately weekly intervals from 9 individuals show variation in the response to the mRNA vaccine, with some showing a vigorous response to the first dose (prime) and others requiring a subsequent dose (boost) to reach high anti-SARS-CoV-2 levels.”
  • Antibody response induced by mRNA vaccination differs from natural SARS-CoV-2 infection- “‘We should not assume that previously infected individuals are immune or that they cannot transmit the virus,’ write the authors. Thus, vaccination induces a more robust antibody response, and even people who have been previously infected may benefit from the vaccine.”
  • Risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection after natural infection- "The quality, quantity, and durability of protective immunity elicited by natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 are poor relative to the much higher levels of virus neutralising antibodies and T cells induced by the vaccines currently being administered globally.  Emergence of variants of SARS-CoV-2 with variable escape from natural and vaccine-induced immunity complicates matters further. Precise correlates of protection against SARS-CoV-2 are not known, but emerging variants of concern might shift immunity below a protective margin, prompting the need for updated vaccines. Interestingly, vaccine responses even after single dose are substantially enhanced in individuals with a history of infection with SARS-CoV-2. These data are all confirmation, if it were needed, that for SARS-CoV-2 the hope of protective immunity through natural infections might not be within our reach, and a global vaccination programme with high efficacy vaccines is the enduring solution..."  

 

Yes, Lehigh will continue to require COVID vaccination and boosters for all students, faculty and staff (unless they receive an approved medical or religious exemption). The Supreme Court ruling limits the power of the federal government to mandate that large employers take certain measures, such as requiring vaccinations, but does not preclude or limit employers from instituting such measures.  As an employer, Lehigh has the ability to implement this requirement for the health and safety of its community, and vaccination and boosters remain critical in supporting these efforts. We are continuing with the strategy we initiated last summer to most safely provide a fully functioning campus through widespread vaccination.  For more information on these requirements and for additional health guidance, please visit our Vaccination Resources Center.

Yes. Lehigh is requiring students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated and boosted, or to receive an approved medical or religious exemption. Read more detail and stay up-to-date on the latest vaccination information, resources, and Lehigh policies on the Lehigh vaccination resource page

Yes. The CDC says, “The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States. Vaccination providers can be reimbursed for vaccine administration fees by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay a vaccine administration fee.​”

Regarding Lehigh’s student insurance, Wellfleet provides the following information: “Wellfleet will waive all out-of-pocket costs for the COVID-19 vaccine. Student members will not be responsible for co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance regardless of which FDA-approved vaccine they receive.”

The CDC outlines guidelines for vaccinated domestic and international travelers and the PA DOH current travel guidance page can be found here.

Refer to the PA DOH website for information about vaccine providers in your area.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) has compiled safety information for COVID vaccines, including information for specific vaccines. The CDC also has information about adverse effects here. According to the CDC, adverse events that have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) are accepted, even if it is not clear the vaccine caused the problem. The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other federal agencies will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

 

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.

Student Vaccine Requirement

Students should include information about their COVID vaccination when they complete their record of required vaccinations, including documentation of their full name, name of vaccine received, and the administration dates for all doses.

Students with individual questions about their personal situation should send the Health and Wellness Center a secure message through the Health Center Portal - this is preferable to email and will help facilitate a prompt response.

 

Students can request an exemption, for COVID or any of the other required vaccines, by reaching out to the HWC via the student Patient Portal. An Immunization Exemption request form will be published for the student to review, sign and submit for documentation in their medical record.

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.

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 and the booster are effective at preventing serious illness and death and continue to be the best protection against the spread of new and more contagious variants of the virus.

In addition, widespread vaccination supports the health and safety of the campus community and helps 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.

  • Lehigh undergraduate and graduate students participating in programs and activities on campus. This requirement will operate similarly to our existing requirements for other immunizations.
  • This requirement does NOT apply to students participating in programs that are fully online or which never meet on campus. 
  • This requirement also applies to summer programs and all students, including non-Lehigh students, who request to live in Lehigh housing.
  • Optional summer programs held away from campus may also require vaccination in order to participate.

Any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or under the WHO - Emergency Use Listing will satisfy this requirement.

Yes. As with our other required immunizations, students may request an exemption for medical or religious reasons.

Follow the directions for requesting an exemption as shared on the student health portal. New/Incoming students can find more information here

 

Yes. Students should upload a copy of their COVID vaccination card on the Health and Wellness Center health portal, including documentation of their full name, the name of the vaccine received, and the administration date for both doses.

Undergraduate courses are being held in person except for a small number of cases in which remote instruction is accommodating students who cannot be on campus because of visa issues or medical accommodations. Some graduate programs are completely online and students enrolled in these programs who will never come to campus do not need to be vaccinated. Students who have COVID-related concerns or questions about accommodations should reach out to Disability Support Services

We understand that some of our international students will already have been vaccinated with one of the many non-US-FDA-approved vaccines currently being used globally. Students must receive one of the vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or by the World Health Organization-Emergency Use Listing or request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. The list of approved vaccines may evolve and the current list will apply. More specific information for international students is available in these messages from OISS (scroll to the message that applies to you) and on the website FAQ for international students. For questions about the exemptions process or about your individual vaccination schedule and plan, please send a secure message through the Health and Wellness Center patient portal. 

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has a resource explaining emergency use authorization, or “EUA.” To receive an EUA, the vaccines were required to adhere to rigorous standards, testing and multiple trials. To explain the speed of vaccine development, the FDA says: 

“In public health emergencies, such as a pandemic, the development process may be atypical. For example, as demonstrated by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has coalesced government agencies, international counterparts, academia, nonprofit organizations and pharmaceutical companies to develop a coordinated strategy for prioritizing and speeding development of the most promising vaccines. In addition, the federal government has made investments in the necessary manufacturing capacity at its own risk, giving companies confidence that they can invest aggressively in development and allowing faster distribution of an eventual vaccine. However, efforts to speed vaccine development to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have not sacrificed scientific standards, integrity of the vaccine review process, or safety.

Faculty/Staff Vaccine Requirement

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. 

 

The university is developing a new process for faculty and staff to confirm their vaccination status. Details will be forthcoming

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 and the booster are effective at preventing serious illness and death and continue to be the best protection against the spread of new and more contagious variants of the virus.

In addition, widespread vaccination supports the health and safety of the campus community and helps 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.

Any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or under the WHO - Emergency Use Listing will satisfy this requirement.

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. 

Academics

Students may need to provide a copy of messages they are sent from the Health and Wellness Center, which includes confirmation of their isolation/quarantine start and end dates, to their faculty and instructors. Some instructors may require this information to excuse a student from class, so all positive tests, including at-home antigen tests, should be reported to the HWC.

Normal cleaning processes will resume. 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 and testing areas.

First, students should focus on staying home when sick and supporting their personal health, safety and wellness. Students should keep in contact with their professors about any course conflicts and work directly with their professors on a plan to make up any missed coursework. Faculty will accommodate quarantining/isolation needs throughout the semester.

For extenuating circumstances, students who are unable to keep pace with studies in a given course should speak with the professor regarding how to complete the course. In some instances, it may be appropriate for a student to “take an incomplete,” meaning that the student would receive a temporary semester grade of N and complete some coursework after the end of the semester. For information on this process, and the circumstances under which it might be appropriate to take an incomplete, see the University Catalog’s information on the definition of grades (specifically the N grade).

There are a variety of situations that might lead a student to withdraw from an individual course. A student who has missed a very large proportion of the first half of a course might decide to withdraw before the withdrawal deadline. In a regular semester, a student may withdraw through the 11th week of the semester; see the Lehigh Catalog for additional information on course withdrawals.

In the event of a health situation that requires a student to withdraw from the university (that is, withdraw from all courses), the student may apply for a medical withdrawal. Supporting health documentation is required. In the event of a medical withdrawal from all courses in a semester, certified by the Dean of Students, tuition will be refunded in proportion to the semester remaining.

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. 

 

As in previous semesters, students who are required to isolate or quarantine must not go to class in person. They should inform their professors and instructors of their need to isolate/quarantine and work with them to keep up with their coursework. Faculty and instructors were encouraged by the Provost to provide guidance and flexibility for students who require isolation or quarantine. 

 

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.     

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 5 days after a positive test result, with required mask-wearing for 5 additional days. 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.

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. 

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.

Undergraduate students considering a leave of absence should discuss their plans with their academic advisor, and reach out to the Office of Academic Life and Student Transitions. This office oversees the process that a student must complete in order to take a leave of absence. Please note that the process to take a leave of absence should be completed before the start of the semester of the leave.

If unapproved leaves are taken, students are declared as non-returning and must request readmission through the Dean of Students if they wish to re-enroll in a future term. Courses taken at another college or university while on an unapproved leave will not be permitted to transfer toward a Lehigh University baccalaureate degree.

It is extremely important to seek approval for the transfer of courses before beginning coursework at another university. Lehigh’s course approval process involves both the Office of Registration and Academic Services (RAS) and academic departments; faculty evaluate courses for transfer based on their equivalency and rigor. Courses taken at rigorous four-year institutions are viewed more favorably by faculty.

Undergraduate courses are being held in person except for a small number of cases in which remote instruction is accommodating students who cannot be on campus because of visa issues or medical accommodations. Some graduate programs are completely online and students enrolled in these programs who will never come to campus do not need to be vaccinated. Students who have COVID-related concerns or questions about accommodations should reach out to Disability Support Services

All undergraduate students must be enrolled in 12 credit hours in a semester to hold full-time status. Incoming first-year students must enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours of courses, or they will have their status changed to a nondegree student. Returning students may enroll in fewer than 12 credits and remain degree-seeking students, but they will be considered part-time students. There are a number of implications to this, and it is important to understand the ramifications of going part-time or (for first-year students) being a nondegree student.

First, students should consider time to degree. Students need to complete an average of 15 to 17 credit hours for eight semesters in order to complete their degrees in four years. (The exact number of credit hours required for a degree varies by college.) If students take a lower course load, they will need to take additional courses in other semesters.

There are also financial aid implications. Undergraduates must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits (full-time status) in order to receive institutional financial aid, and maintaining good academic progress for financial aid purposes requires a student to complete 24 credit hours in an academic year. There are also implications to the schedule for paying back loans, so it is important to speak with your financial aid advisor about these implications.

Finally, there are implications for your privileges as a Lehigh student. Certain students, such as athletes and ROTC students, must maintain full-time status. Students should also be aware that they are eligible to join a fraternity or sorority only after successfully completing a full-time Lehigh schedule of 12 credit hours or more and earning a 2.500 GPA or higher, so going part-time may affect your ability to rush, and there may be other implications for leadership positions in clubs and organizations. Students’ eligibility to enroll in Lehigh’s student health insurance plan varies by credit load.

Students should talk with their advisor, and must speak with Lehigh’s director of retention, Dr. Donna Mohr (inretain@lehigh.edu), about their plans. Students must complete the permanent withdrawal/non-return form in advance of the start of the semester.

Events, Meetings and Gatherings

Health & Safety

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. 

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 5 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. The HWC will then be able to provide the documentation a professor might require for your missing class. 

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.

Yes. Supplemental to our Health and Wellness Center, we have partnered with the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) to provide access to their 24/7 nurse triage line (1-888-402-LVHN). Speak with a nurse to assess COVID and other symptoms, to answer your questions, and discuss your testing options. A video visit is also an option. Additional information is available in the guide published here. 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 are experiencing a true medical emergency and need to visit the hospital or emergency department, you should call 9-1-1. 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.

A close contact is defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more within 2 days prior to illness onset, regardless of whether the contact was wearing a mask. Additional information regarding close contacts can be found here.

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. 

 

If the Health & Wellness Center is closed, call the main number at 610-758-3870 to reach the clinician-on-call for non-emergent health advice. You will first reach an answering service. Please provide them with your name and phone number and you will receive a call back from the clinician-on-call (a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician who works at the Health & Wellness Center). Alternatively, you can access Lehigh Valley Health Network’s 24/7 nurse triage line at 1-888-402-LVHN to 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 is available in the guide published here. 

In the case of a medical emergency, if you are on Lehigh's campus, call the Lehigh University Police Department (LUPD) at 610-758-4200. If you are not on Lehigh's campus, call 911. 

Visit the Vaccination Resources page on the Coronavirus Information Center for more information about Lehigh's policies. 

Vaccinated or unvaccinated students, faculty and staff who were notified or who believe they are a close contact of someone who tested positive for the virus and are not experiencing significant symptoms should take an at-home COVID antigen test and monitor for symptoms. Students who are symptomatic should take an at-home test or call the HWC at 610-758-3870 to get tested as soon as possible. Faculty and staff who are symptomatic should take an at-home test or call the university’s Employee Health Nurse Case Manager from Lehigh Valley Health Network at 610-861-8080 ext. 23504. All positive tests should be reported to the HWC (students) or the Employee Health Nurse Case Manager (faculty and staff).

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.

Masks are optional indoors and outdoors on Lehigh campuses, with the exception of the Health and Wellness Center and in specific contexts or where people who are at high risk for complications due to COVID are located. In these situations signage and/or other means will be used to communicate this requirement. Events, meetings and registrar-scheduled classes may be areas where masking is required by event organizers or instructors. Masks must continue to be worn around others for 10 full days when isolating in place after a positive COVID test and after an exposure to an individual who has tested positive for COVID; please follow CDC guidance in these cases. Masks are recommended on Lehigh buses.

We will continue to monitor data and guidance from the CDC and other public health sources, especially as it relates to data on new variants. In addition, we continue to strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Data continue to show that full vaccination is our best course of defense against serious illness from COVID and the threat of new variants. 

  • Isolation 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 separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. 

Read Lehigh's isolation and quarantine policy. 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).

For positive results, yesStudents should upload a copy of the report of their POSITIVE test results on the Health and Wellness Center patient portal. Faculty and staff should follow the process established through Lehigh's occupational health provider. Students should contact the Lehigh Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 for additional guidance about isolation and next steps to be cleared for arrival. 

For negative results, no. You do not need to upload your negative test results. Remember that the results only indicate that the coronavirus was not detected on the day you took the test. 

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 5 days after a positive test result, with required mask-wearing for 5 additional days. 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.

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. 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). 

Wearing a mask protects others (by limiting virus transmission at the source) and yourself (by reducing the amount of virus that you inhale). Wearing a mask, especially a high quality mask (e.g. a N-95, KN-95 or KF-94) is effective in reducing the rate of COVID transmission, regardless of whether others are wearing masks in the environment regardless of whether others are wearing masks in the environment.

 

  • 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. 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.

Please email the Bursar’s office at Bursar@lehigh.edu . When making your insurance decision, please consider what is a better choice for you and your individual situation. If you have coverage at home but not when physically on campus and are identifying yourself as a remote student, during this time we are making an exception to allow enrollment for spring only.

Regardless of your housing status and/or mode of instruction selection, you must Waive or Confirm enrollment in the student health insurance plan at https://www.universityhealthplans.com/letters/letter.cgi?group_id=4 . The Student Health Insurance policy guidelines are available at: https://financeadmin.lehigh.edu/HealthInsurance.

You can find COVID-related visitor information on the For Campus Visitors page. 

Students may need to provide a copy of messages they are sent from the Health and Wellness Center, which includes confirmation of their isolation/quarantine start and end dates, to their faculty and instructors. Some instructors may require this information to excuse a student from class, so all positive tests, including at-home antigen tests, should be reported to the HWC.

Students are instructed how to notify close contacts as soon as possible. If students have questions about their health and/or development of symptoms, they can reach out to the Health & Wellness Center (HWC) via secure message through the Student Patient Portal

With rapid transmission, timeliness is important. By sharing with students how they can notify close contacts, this process can occur immediately after students learn they are positive. The instructions for residential students can be found here

 

 

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

Yes. Lehigh is requiring students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated and boosted, or to receive an approved medical or religious exemption. Read more detail and stay up-to-date on the latest vaccination information, resources, and Lehigh policies on the Lehigh vaccination resource page

During the week, students who are experiencing symptoms can be tested at the Health and Wellness Center. Results are usually available within an hour. Our Health and Wellness Center has additional staff to support those who are reporting symptoms and need to be tested, but there may be cases where the Health and Wellness Center refers you to a partner clinic to be tested.

Supplemental to the Health and Wellness Center, we have partnered with the Lehigh Valley Health Network 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. 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.

International Students

The Office of International Students and Scholars has developed a page that answers questions specific to international students.

Isolation and Quarantine

Refer to our isolation and quarantining protocol for what to expect if you live on or off campus. 

Roommates with the below bulleted medical conditions as outlined by the CDC are considered a circumstance where a positive student should relocate to isolation housing to mitigate the risk of exposing their roommate. Highly symptomatic studentsas determined by Health and Wellness Center professionalsmay be required to isolate away from their residence hall and for longer than five days. 

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV infection
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
  • Mental health conditions
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Smoking, current or former
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
  • Substance use disorders
  • Tuberculosis

Students violating these rules will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and subject to cancellation of their housing contract.

If you’ve been identified as a close contact, regardless of vaccination status or if you have had a previous infection, you are not required to quarantine if you are not experiencing symptoms. 

  • Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days upon exposure. 
  • Test on day 6 after exposure even if you don’t have symptoms 
    • You can pick up an at-home antigen test from the Health & Wellness Center, and test on or after day 5 of exposure, or if you have symptoms.

Additional close contact information can be found here: CDC guidance for Close Contacts and Instructions for Close Contacts

  • Isolation 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 separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. 

Read Lehigh's isolation and quarantine policy. 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).

A close contact is defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more within 2 days prior to illness onset, regardless of whether the contact was wearing a mask. Additional information regarding close contacts can be found here.

Students may need to provide a copy of messages they are sent from the Health and Wellness Center, which includes confirmation of their isolation/quarantine start and end dates, to their faculty and instructors. Some instructors may require this information to excuse a student from class, so all positive tests, including at-home antigen tests, should be reported to the HWC.

We have gained a better understanding of COVID and its impact on our community. Vaccines, as well as new testing and treatment options, also have allowed us to adjust our response to the disease. COVID cases among students on our campus have typically been mild. Vaccination and boosters continue to reduce the severity of COVID, especially for those without other risk factors. With this context, our focus will shift towards mitigation efforts that are focused on protecting the most vulnerable from serious illness.  

Therefore, student isolation housing is used principally for COVID-positive residential students who have COVID-negative roommates who are immunocompromised or who have other factors that place them at high risk for serious complications because of a COVID infection. In these cases, residential students who have tested positive will be moved to isolation housing (away from their COVID-negative high-risk roommate).

Students isolating in their residence will be required to follow  CDC guidelines and rules that reduce their exposure to their roommates and others. This includes wearing a high-quality and well-fitted mask (such as KN-95 or similar, or a surgical mask covered by a cloth mask). Students in isolation must remain in their room, except to go to the bathroom and for other critical needs such as visiting the Health and Wellness Center (masks should be worn at all times). Students in isolation should not gather in groups either indoors or outdoors. Students are required to wear a mask for an additional five days following their initial five days of isolation. In the initial five days after a positive test students are NOT permitted to attend class, go to the gym, go to the library, go to the dining hall, or be indoors in any campus indoor space except their room or the spaces needed to travel to and from the bathroom in their residence hall.

 

As in previous semesters, students who are required to isolate or quarantine must not go to class in person. They should inform their professors and instructors of their need to isolate/quarantine and work with them to keep up with their coursework. Faculty and instructors were encouraged by the Provost to provide guidance and flexibility for students who require isolation or quarantine. 

 

Read Lehigh’s isolation and quarantine policy here.

Students who are on a University meal plan will be offered options for meals to include a Zelle reimbursement in exchange for meal swipes. With this option, students may order meals/groceries from food delivery services OR they may have living mates take their ID to the dining hall and pick up a to-go meal to bring back to the residence hall. Further details will be provided in the communication to the students who test positive.

Students are instructed how to notify close contacts as soon as possible. If students have questions about their health and/or development of symptoms, they can reach out to the Health & Wellness Center (HWC) via secure message through the Student Patient Portal

With rapid transmission, timeliness is important. By sharing with students how they can notify close contacts, this process can occur immediately after students learn they are positive. The instructions for residential students can be found here

 

 

If you have questions related to specific medical concerns or symptoms, call the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 or contact us through the HWC secure message portal.

If you moved to isolation housing and have any questions regarding your housing or dining needs during your isolation or quarantine, email inisohsg@lehigh.edu or call 610-758-3500.

Visit the isolation and quarantine section of the FAQ for additional answers to questions specific to isolation and quarantining. Consult our COVID-19 Contacts page for contact information not found here.

No. 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). 

Students testing positive who require separate isolation housing due to their roommates being at high risk should contact the Relocation Team at inisohsg@lehigh.edu to be relocated to isolation housing.

After isolating for 5 days, if the student’s symptoms have resolved or are resolving and they do not have a fever, they can end isolation and must wear a mask for an additional 5 days whenever around others. Some symptoms, such as a cough, may linger but are not cause for continued isolation (per CDC guidelines). Students with a positive test result not administered by Lehigh must upload information about their positive test to their Health and Wellness Center patient portal as soon as possible after testing positive. This ensures you receive important communications related to your isolation, including documentation a professor might require for your missing class.

Residential Life & Campus Resources

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.

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.  

Travel & Transportation

If you develop symptoms during or after travel:

  • Students contact the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 as soon as possible or prior to your return to campus. 
  • Faculty and staff should 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.

The CDC outlines guidelines for vaccinated domestic and international travelers and the PA DOH current travel guidance page can be found here.

Working at Lehigh

Normal cleaning processes will resume. 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 and testing areas.

Yes, Lehigh will continue to require COVID vaccination and boosters for all students, faculty and staff (unless they receive an approved medical or religious exemption). The Supreme Court ruling limits the power of the federal government to mandate that large employers take certain measures, such as requiring vaccinations, but does not preclude or limit employers from instituting such measures.  As an employer, Lehigh has the ability to implement this requirement for the health and safety of its community, and vaccination and boosters remain critical in supporting these efforts. We are continuing with the strategy we initiated last summer to most safely provide a fully functioning campus through widespread vaccination.  For more information on these requirements and for additional health guidance, please visit our Vaccination Resources Center.

Masks are optional indoors and outdoors on Lehigh campuses, with the exception of the Health and Wellness Center and in specific contexts or where people who are at high risk for complications due to COVID are located. In these situations signage and/or other means will be used to communicate this requirement. Events, meetings and registrar-scheduled classes may be areas where masking is required by event organizers or instructors. Masks must continue to be worn around others for 10 full days when isolating in place after a positive COVID test and after an exposure to an individual who has tested positive for COVID; please follow CDC guidance in these cases. Masks are recommended on Lehigh buses.

We will continue to monitor data and guidance from the CDC and other public health sources, especially as it relates to data on new variants. In addition, we continue to strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Data continue to show that full vaccination is our best course of defense against serious illness from COVID and the threat of new variants. 

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

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.

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.

It has been brought to the attention of Human Resources that some healthcare providers may be submitting incorrect billing codes to Capital Blue Cross when a patient receives a COVID-19 diagnostic test, resulting in the patient being responsible for a copay or coinsurance for the visit. Testing and visits for the diagnosis of COVID-19 are covered under the University’s medical plans with no cost share to the patient through January 16, 2022.

If you are covered under one of the University’s medical plans and if you, or any of your covered dependents, have received a COVID-19 diagnostic test for which you received a bill for the visit and/or test, and would like to have our office request that Capital Blue Cross review the claim, please complete the following Google Form:  2021 COVID-19 Testing Claim Review Request

Please do not send us any additional information other than what is requested in the form above.  If you choose to submit your information via the Google Form, your information will be kept strictly confidential and will be submitted to Capital Blue Cross through their secure portal. While we have had good responses so far, we will send the information to Capital Blue Cross with a request to review the claim for accuracy, but we cannot guarantee that the claim will be reprocessed and paid.  Please allow a few weeks before this process is complete. We appreciate your patience.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Caitlin Leidy at crl215@lehigh.edu or Patricia Florkowski at pjg209@lehigh.edu.

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.

At-home antigen tests are widely available at pharmacies, and, in many cases, are covered by insurance. 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. 

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.

Staff may use any type of paid leave to accommodate the need to stay home or leave campus early. 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.

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.

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.