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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

Isolation and Quarantine Protocol

Last Updated: Aug. 24, 2022 at 9:06 am

This protocol provides general information regarding isolation and quarantine. Any directives provided by Health and Wellness Center or the Lehigh Occupational Health nurse supersede what appears here.

Isolation

For Positive COVID-19 Cases 

Isolation is the separation of someone who is ill and is awaiting a test result or has tested positive for COVID-19.  One can test positive for COVID-19 without symptoms. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people can test positive.

Vaccines, as well as new testing and treatment options, 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. 

Most vaccinated residential students who test positive for COVID will remain in their assigned on-campus residence for the duration of their required isolation period, unless their roommate (or suitemate) indicates that they are at high risk for severe COVID through the process described in an FAQ on the COVID Information website. In these cases, residential students who have tested positive will be moved to isolation housing (away from their COVID-negative, high-risk roommate). Please note isolation housing for this purpose is extremely limited and only for those who have a roommate who is at high risk for severe COVID. Our Health and Wellness Center (HWC) will continue to provide support to all students who are symptomatic and require care.

Students isolating in their residence are 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). COVID-positive students also may choose to complete their isolation period elsewhere if they are able to travel by private vehicle. Highly symptomatic students—as determined by Health and Wellness Center professionals—may be required to isolate away from their residence hall and for longer than five days.

Quarantine

For Exposure to COVID-19, Close Contacts

Quarantine is the separation of someone exposed to a COVID-19-positive individual from others to monitor the exposed person for signs of illness

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 
    • Students can pick up an at-home antigen test from the Health & Wellness Center and test on or after day 5 of exposure, or if they have symptoms.

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

Additional Resources

Isolation Kit

We encourage all students and their families to discuss and prepare a plan for if they or their roommate contract COVID and to have an “isolation kit” prepared in advance that includes cleaning materials, medicine and other necessities.

Supplies you may want to include in your Isolation Kit:

  • Academic Materials: All class materials, including academic books, notebooks, laptop and other necessary supplies.
  • Personal Medications: Prescribed medications you need for at least 10 days (the duration of the infective period).
  • Hygiene Supplies: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, etc.
  • Technology Supplies: Phone charger, laptop charger and a back-up battery.
  • Comfort Food: Consider packing your favorite comfort snacks and drinks as well as a reusable water bottle. The university also offers a reimbursement process that allows students to exchange meal swipes for a stipend. 
  • Self-Care Items to support your well-being: Art supplies, puzzles, crafts, playing cards, books
  • Blanket

CDC Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions marked with a bell emoji have been added recently.

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.

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 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).

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 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.

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 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.

 

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

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.

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. 

 

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

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

 

 

  • 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).

Read Lehigh’s isolation and quarantine policy here.

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

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.