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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

Isolation and Quarantine Protocol

Last Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 11:12 am

This protocol is a detailed outline of how we will care for students who require isolation or quarantine.

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 from people who are not sick.  One can test positive for COVID-19 without symptoms.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate for at least 10 days (the duration of the infective period) from the time symptoms first appear or, in the case of an individual who has a positive test but has not had any symptoms, 10 days from the date that they were tested.

Isolation may be required for longer periods depending on the course of symptoms. Read more from the CDC about how to "Isolate If You Are Sick." 

Process/What to Expect

  • If you live off campus, you will be contacted by the HWC Contact Tracing Team. 
  • If you live on campus, you will be contacted by the HWC Contact Tracing Team and the Relocation Team with information about relocation to isolation housing. Review suggested items for what to pack at the bottom of this page under "Additional Resources." 
  • If you receive a positive result after the HWC closes on a weekday (4:00 p.m.), you can expect to hear from a HWC staff member the following weekday. 
  • If you receive your test result over the weekend, a clinician is available and on call at the number provided below for those experiencing medical issues; otherwise, you can expect to receive a follow-up from a HWC staff member on Monday. You should remain in your residence and self-isolate until you receive further directions from these teams. Students completing their isolation period at home must be cleared by the Health and Wellness Center to end isolation and return to campus. 

If you are experiencing symptoms at any time, including while awaiting follow-up from the HWC for a positive test result, please call the HWC's main number at 610-758-3870. There is a HWC clinician-on-call after-hours and on weekends for medical concerns. At any time, if you are experiencing a true medical emergency, call LUPD at 610-758-4200 or dial 9-1-1. 

Isolation Protocol

  • Lehigh-required isolation for students living on campus involves assignment to a residence with zero public contact due to a COVID-19 diagnosis with or without active symptoms. Isolation housing units are self-contained and there is no air circulated between units. 
  • Faculty will readily accommodate students and help with a plan for continuing their studies during this time.
  • Students receive meals delivered to their door, cleaning supplies for their restroom and living space, bed linens, and check-ins with an HWC healthcare provider.
  • Students may not have visitors and may not leave their room except to receive medical care. If a student is having a medical emergency, they should call LUPD and EMS at 610-758-4200 immediately. Students should let dispatch know they are in isolation for exposure to COVID-19. For non-emergency medical concerns, students should call the HWC.
  • The HWC will communicate with the appropriate offices that a student has been diagnosed as a positive COVID-19 case and the student will be assigned a room for isolation.
  • Students will remain in the temporary space until the date cleared by the HWC.
  • Sheets, pillow, blanket, and towels will be placed in isolation spaces prior to a student’s arrival by Housing Services.
  • Dining Services will prepare food and beverages (water, juice, Gatorade), which will be left outside the apartment door. Meals are delivered six days/week. For special dietary needs, please call Carrie Gerencher, on-campus registered dietitian, at 484-357-2258.
  • A face covering and health-related information will be given to the student by HWC at the time of testing.
  • Tissues, cleaning and sanitizing solution, hand soap, toilet paper, and paper towels will be available in isolation spaces.
  • Students assigned to isolation spaces should be cleaning the space regularly, twice per day, using cleaning supplies that have been provided.
  • Once an isolation room is vacated, the room will be fully cleaned using best-practice cleaning protocols related to COVID-19. This applies to all university-operated isolation spaces.
  • HWC staff will be in regular contact with all students living in isolation spaces.
  • Students who test positive for COVID-19 may be isolated together (e.g. “cohorting” of positive cases) in separate bedrooms with a shared bathroom.
  • Students with symptoms who are suspected of having COVID-19 who are awaiting test results need to be isolated, but will not be isolated with students who have a known positive COVID-19 test.

If the student lives off campus in the local community in a unit or house not owned or operated by Lehigh University (including SouthSide Commons):

  • Students with symptoms who are awaiting COVID-19 test results OR who have a positive COVID-19 test result will be instructed to self-isolate in their off-campus apartment. It is required that students must be in self-isolation and may not return to campus until cleared by the HWC. Any housemates living in the apartment will be made aware of the recommendation for their self-quarantine requirements by the Bethlehem Health Bureau or the HWC. Bethlehem Health Bureau will work with HWC for contact tracing and recommendations once there is a positive COVID-19 test result.

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. For COVID-19, quarantine lasts 14 days (the duration of the incubation period). Read more from the CDC about "When to Quarantine."

Why does Lehigh follow a 14-day Quarantine? - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) updated their guidelines, providing an option for reduced quarantining periods for individuals where a 14-day quarantine may cause an undue burden. However, the CDC notes explicitly that congregate settings, in particular college dormitories, carry special considerations regarding density and transmission risk factors. Following the 14-day option remains the most protective and the best overall strategy for effectively reducing disease transmission. To prioritize health and safety and to keep our standard consistent across our community, Lehigh will continue to follow the 14-day quarantining guideline for all students, faculty, and staff. There may be cases where local healthcare authorities or entities may offer an alternative quarantine timeframe; however, the Health and Wellness Center and occupational Lehigh Valley Health Network consultant will continue to use the 14-day guideline when clearing students, faculty and staff to return to school or work. As conditions continue to evolve, The COVID-19 Response Team will monitor and rely on data and updated guidance to inform any changes to this protocol. 

Note that guidelines for quarantining following travel may differ. 

Quarantine Protocol

  • Students living on campus* are quarantined in the designated housing location for 14 days. Students in quarantine may not attend classes or other campus activities. They may only pick up take-out meals and must immediately return to their residence. *Students living in residence halls whose permanent residence is within 150 miles of campus will be strongly encouraged to quarantine at home if able to travel by private vehicle. Students completing their quarantining period at home must be cleared by the Health and Wellness Center to end quarantine and return to campus. 

  • Faculty will readily accommodate students and help with a plan for continuing their studies during this time.

  • Students living in on-campus housing who have been exposed to a residence hall “hallmate” will maintain housing in their assigned residence hall room during the period of quarantine (single occupancy bedrooms, shared bathroom).

  • Students living in on-campus housing who have been exposed to a non-residence hall “hallmate” case (such as exposure to a student from another residence hall or exposure to a staff or community member with COVID-19) will be relocated to separate quarantine housing with a single bedroom and single bathroom. These housing units are self-contained and there is no air circulated between units. 

  • Specific recommendations for quarantine of particular individuals based on the nature of their particular exposure to COVID-19 will be determined by the Bethlehem Health Bureau and LU HWC through investigation and surveillance of current active COVID-19 cases. Such required quarantine involves no less than 14 days of confinement.

  • Students may not have visitors and may not leave their room except to receive medical care. If a student is having a medical emergency they should call LUPD and EMS at 610-758-4200 immediately. Students should let dispatch know they are in quarantine for exposure to COVID-19. For non-emergency medical concerns, students should call the HWC.

  • Students will be permitted to pick up take-out diningThis process is designed to minimize contact with others and follows all appropriate health and safety protocols, including limiting the number of students gathering and incorporating socially distanced queuing as necessary. Students place their takeout containers through a small opening on a tray, which dining staff then uses to place the food on; the server then puts the tray (never touching the takeout container) through the opening for the student to take. Both students and staff are wearing masks and staff are behind glass. Students are in and out of the dining halls within 10-15 minutes and stand socially distanced while in the dining hall. 

  • In the instance of required quarantine on campus, the individuals shall receive cleaning supplies for their restroom and living space, and check-ins with an HWC healthcare provider. Cleaning procedures for restrooms for those quarantining in their residence hall are enhanced and more frequent.  

  • Students living in off-campus housing who had close contact with someone with COVID-19 will be instructed to quarantine in their off-campus housing. 

  • Students living in off-campus housing must be in quarantine and may not return to campus until cleared by the HWC. Any housemates living in the apartment will be made aware of the recommendation for their self-quarantine requirements by the Bethlehem Health Bureau or the HWC. Bethlehem Health Bureau will work with HWC for contact tracing and recommendations once there is a positive COVID-19 test result.

  • The HWC will follow-up with students as needed in accordance with CDC and PA DOH recommendations.

Additional Resources

Go Kit

It is important to note that if you are asked to isolate, you will not be able to leave your isolation space until released by the HWC.  It is recommended that all students assemble a “Go Kit” to have available should you need it.  Students may either bring their Go Kit to the HWC if they are not feeling well or showing symptoms of COVID 19 or you may ask another student to pick up your Go Kit from your room and deliver it to your isolation location (please request they leave it outside of your door so there is no contact).

The university is providing some items in all isolation rooms including:

  • Linens (2 sheets, pillow, pillowcase, 2 towels, washcloth)
  • Paper products (toilet paper, paper towels and tissues)
  • Wellness Kits (thermometer, hand sanitizer, 2 masks)
  • Cleaning supplies. Students should use the cleaning supplies regularly during their stay in isolation, including in bedrooms, common areas and bathrooms.

Supplies you may want to include in your Go 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 will be providing bagged/pre-prepared meals for you throughout your stay, but you may wish to bring along your own favorite snacks.
  • Self-Care Items to support your well-being: Art supplies, puzzles, crafts, playing cards, books
  • Blanket

CDC Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Travel, both domestic and international, can present risks associated with exposure to COVID-19. Although travel by the university has been limited, those coming from international and out-of-state locations should follow Lehigh's travel policies for students, faculty and staff

Students who are living in on-campus housing, who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, will be able to self-quarantine in the residence halls either on their current residence hall floor (if the contact was another student on that floor) or in separate quarantine housing as determined by the LU HWC, the university and Bethlehem Health Bureau. Students who are living in off-campus housing will not be provided with on-campus quarantine housing if they have had close contact with someone with COVID-19. Read more

No. Space on campus is very limited given the health and safety protocols in place, such as low-density occupancy. Students living off campus will be required to self-isolate in their off-campus residence. We urge students and families to consider this when making decisions about living in the Bethlehem area in off-campus housing instead of remaining home.  All students will have access to services from the Health and Wellness Center and access to treatment, including through telemedicine.

  • 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.

Read Lehigh's isolation and quarantine policy, including information about the CDC's and PADOH's recently updated quarantining guidelines. 

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

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

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.

For questions about surveillance testing, contact inopen@lehigh.edu.

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.

Students who completed their isolation or quarantine at home must first be cleared by the Health and Wellness Center (HWC) contact tracing team to return. 

Upon return, students who completed quarantine at home (did not test positive) need to sign up for an on-campus surveillance test to be completed as soon as possible and will not be required to complete another quarantine period while awaiting a test result.

No. Negative tests do not "test you out" of quarantine if you were identified as having come in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.  You need to complete the full 14 days of quarantine. If a person who is a close contact has a test during that time and tests positive, then they become a case and must be in isolation starting from the date of the test (or onset of symptoms) for 10 days. Isolation (required for at least 10 days) is for people suspected of having COVID-19 and who are either awaiting a test or confirmed to be a positive case. Read Lehigh’s isolation and quarantine protocol.

A close contact is defined by the CDC as someone who was within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. The Health and Wellness Center is testing students who are close contacts and may refer you to the outdoor testing tent established for this purpose. The lab turnaround time for these tests is between 24 and 48 hours. Close contacts are placed on quarantine for 14 days from the date of last close contact. Demonstrating a negative COVID-19 test does not eliminate the need to quarantine.

If a student is in quarantine, the mail center will hold the package for the student to pick up after quarantine is over. If it’s a time-sensitive matter, then the student can delegate someone to pick up the package. They can send an email to mailcenter@lehigh.edu stating the name of the person picking up the package so they know they have been provided permission.

If you have 14 days worth of clean laundry and it is possible to wait, please do so. For students who are quarantining--who do not have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and are monitoring symptoms--it is permissible for you to load your clothes into the washer and dryer, return to your room, or pick up your laundry and return to your room, as long as you are wearing a face covering, wipe down the machines with a sanitizing cloth, and maintain a distance of six feet from others. Follow all procedures in place that support minimal gathering in the laundry room at any given time. Use Laundry Alert (sign in code: lu1473) to see which machines are in use and how many are available. The goal is to avoid interactions with others to minimize exposure, and the risk is low if you take these precautions. Those who are isolating as a result of testing positive for COVID-19 are not permitted to leave isolation housing.

Refer to the available options here

Yes. Students quarantining who have not tested positive may utilize the socially distanced take out process to pick up meals. This process is designed to minimize contact with others and follows all appropriate health and safety protocols, including limiting the number of students gathering and incorporating socially distancing queuing as necessary. Students place their takeout containers through a small opening on a tray, which dining staff then uses to place the food on; the server then puts the tray (never touching the takeout container) through the opening for the student to take. Both students and staff are wearing masks and staff are behind glass. Students are in and out of the dining halls within 10-15 minutes and stand socially distanced while in the dining hall. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) updated their guidelines, providing an option for reduced quarantining periods for individuals where a 14-day quarantine may cause an undue burden. The CDC notes explicitly that congregate settings, in particular college dormitories, carry special considerations regarding density and transmission risk factors; following the 14-day option remains the most protective and the best overall strategy for effectively reducing disease transmission. Per the CDC’s 14-day recommendation, to prioritize health and safety and to keep our standard consistent across our community, Lehigh will continue to follow the 14-day quarantining guideline for all students, faculty, and staff. There may be cases where local healthcare authorities or entities may offer an alternative quarantine timeframe; however, the Health and Wellness Center and occupational Lehigh Valley Health Network consultant will continue to use the 14-day guideline when clearing students, faculty and staff to return to school or work. As conditions continue to evolve, The COVID-19 Response Team will monitor and rely on data and updated guidance to inform any necessary changes to this protocol. Travel protocols are slightly different; read those on the travel guidance page.  

No. You do not need to quarantine after completing all doses of the COVID vaccine if the below criteria from the CDC are met.  Students must upload a copy of their COVID vaccination card on the HWC health portal, including documentation of their full name, name of vaccine received, and the administration date for both doses.

  • People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 do NOT need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 if they meet ALL of the following criteria:
    o   They are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
    o   They are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series; AND,
    o   They have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, persons who exhibit new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still need to isolate and be evaluated for COVID-19 testing.
  • Close contacts who have not received vaccine or who do not meet all of the above criteria must follow existing quarantine guidance.