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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

For Students

Last Updated: Jan 21, 2022 at 8:42 am

Student Support Discussion Videos

The university is taking measures to support the health and well-being of our campus community during these extraordinary times. This support also includes a number of live discussions for students and other members of the community whenever the need arises. View recent recordings shared with the Lehigh community >

For Graduate Students

Additional information for graduate students regarding changes to normal operations due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus is available on the Graduate Education website.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Spring 2022

Over the last two years, 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.  

As we begin this semester, we are preparing for the likelihood that because of the highly contagious Omicron variant, and given our extensive testing of students as they arrive on campus, record numbers of students will test positive. Many campuses across the country are seeing 10-12% positivity rates for returning students. At Lehigh, this would translate to more than 700 positive cases, including more than 250 cases among students in the residence halls. Fortunately, we anticipate that in the vast majority of these cases, fully vaccinated and boosted students will experience mild to moderate symptoms. With this context, our focus this semester will shift towards mitigation efforts that are focused on protecting the most vulnerable from serious illness.  

Therefore, as the semester starts, we plan to use student isolation housing 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 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 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.

 

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 and that are not selected for additional COVID testing within 90 days.

 

No. COVID-positive and close contact residential unvaccinated students or students eligible for a booster who have not yet received a booster will be required to make arrangements to isolate (if they test positive) or quarantine (if they are a close contact) off campus and will not be permitted to remain in university housing. (During the vaccine exemption approval process, students were notified of this possibility.) 

 

Given that the transmission of Omicron is highly efficient and rapid, we are changing our contact tracing protocols by providing guidance directly to students and instructing them 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 Patient Portal

 

Our goal is to limit the spread of the virus early in the semester in order to preserve in-person activities throughout the remainder of the academic year. Please see this message for the university’s plans, which are subject to change.

  • Masks are required indoors in public spaces for both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals, including in classrooms, shared offices, laboratories, meeting spaces and fitness areas, as well as on buses. (Surgical, KN-95, or KF-94 masks are encouraged when possible.)
  • Masks are also encouraged for indoor off-campus gatherings.
  • Outdoors, masks are not required but are strongly encouraged in settings where social distancing between individuals or family groups is not possible.
  • Organizers of outdoor events have the latitude to require masks at their outdoor events, recognizing that venue size and density may be factors.
  • Eating during the course of an indoor meeting, event or gathering is now permitted ONLY during a non-essential portion; read more >
  • For any social interactions, even in outdoor settings, be mindful of social distancing and consider wearing a face mask for additional mitigation of transmission.
  • Masks may be removed when people are alone in any space. 
  • Masks may be removed while dining in designated dining areas (if in-person dining is occurring).
  • Roommates and suitemates are not required to wear masks in their private rooms but all students living in the residence halls should wear a mask in hallways and other common areas. 
  • Face coverings should be worn over your mouth and nose. 
  • A face shield is NOT an appropriate substitute for a face covering/mask (read more under "Other Types of Face Protection.")

The emergence of the more contagious Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19, and evidence that vaccinated people infected with this variant can spread the virus to others, has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update its mask guidance.  We have updated our masking policy in response to this change from the CDC. 

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. We will also continue to monitor local transmission rates in Northampton County, as the CDC has advised, and on campus and in South Bethlehem. In addition, we continue to strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Even with this new information, the data continue to show that full vaccination is our best course of defense against serious illness from COVID and the threat of new variants. 

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

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 are vaccinated and boosted and are not exhibiting any COVID symptoms, you do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day five following exposure. Sign up for an appointment here: LU - Schedule Your COVID-19 CLOSE CONTACT Test. If symptoms develop, get tested immediately by contacting the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 (via separate testing) and isolate using the isolation instructions. 
  • COVID-positive and close contact residential unvaccinated students or students eligible for a booster who have not yet received a booster will be required to make arrangements to isolate (if they test positive) or quarantine (if they are a close contact) off campus and will not be permitted to remain in university housing. (During the vaccine exemption approval process, students were notified of this possibility.) If symptoms develop, get tested immediately by contacting the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870; otherwise, sign up for an appointment to get tested on day five following exposure. 

Read Lehigh’s updated isolation and quarantine policy for the Spring 2022 semester here.

For more information, visit the Arrival Testing page

Boosters

Noncompliance with the booster requirement for students will result in students being unable to access their residence hall and campus buildings and may result in an expedited student code of conduct process. Failure to be in compliance will result in dis-enrollment from spring courses. Faculty and staff noncompliance will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy.

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.

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. 

If you test positive for COVID, as long as you are eligible, you can get a COVID booster shot as soon as your isolation period has ended and you are no longer exhibiting COVID symptoms. You do not need to wait 90 days.

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

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. Unfortunately, with the spread of Omicron, many campuses across the country experienced a marked rise in their COVID infections rates at the end of the fall semester. Boosters will be a necessary component of our health and safety protocols to support a successful spring semester together on campus, including in-person instruction and activities.

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.”

 

The CDC has updated its COVID-19 vaccine recommendations with a preference for people to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna). If you are 18 years or older, you can choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster. You can select the vaccine type that you originally received or “mix and match” and get a different booster. For 16- and 17-year-olds, only Pfizer-BioNTech is available. Read more guidance on the CDC website.

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.)

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

Updated 12.30.21:

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 provide the following information:

  • If you are requesting a medical exemption from the booster requirement, you must provide a written document from your treating health care provider evidencing the medical indication for exemption with a recommendation that you not receive the booster. The health care provider must also explain why the booster is not recommended medically when you have already received the original vaccination series.
  • If you are requesting a religious exemption from the booster requirement, you must provide a written personal statement explaining a new (or different if your prior request was denied by the University) sincerely held religious belief against the COVID-19 vaccines in general and the booster in particular. Since you received the original vaccination series, despite any reservations or objections you may have had, you must clearly explain what has changed to compel this request, what is different about the booster versus the original vaccination series, and how your prior actions of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine are consistent with your current religious objections. If there is supporting documentation you would like the committee to review, please provide it. 

In reviewing these requests, the University will also consider whether you submitted any prior exemption requests, the content and outcome of those requests, and the fact that you received the original vaccination series.  As a reminder, social, political, and economic beliefs and philosophies, or personal preferences alone, do not constitute religious beliefs.

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

Given initial vaccination timelines, most Lehigh community members should be eligible for a booster. Documentation of the booster shot for all continuing students, faculty and staff will be required by Jan. 14, 2022. Those who become eligible AFTER this timeline will need to get their booster shot within 14 days after they become eligible. Students can upload their booster information to the Patient Portal now. Faculty and staff received separate instructions

Test Details

Depending on your location, some tests may be easier to obtain than others. Either PCR or rapid antigen tests, including at-home tests, are appropriate for this purpose. The goal is to allow students the opportunity to isolate at home and avoid traveling to Bethlehem only to find out they must isolate.

No. You do not need to report negative test results. Report only positive test results by submitting a picture of the result along with a piece of paper with your full name, birth date and the date the test was taken, and upload it to the Patient Portal.

General Vaccine Information

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.

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. 

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.     

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 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.

 

Medical exemption requests are reviewed by the Health and Wellness Center (HWC).  Students will be notified by the HWC if additional supporting documentation is required or if the request is approved or denied. Religious exemption requests are reviewed by the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising staff from Student Affairs, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office. 

For students who request a religious exemption, please review the university policy as outlined below. 

For students requesting a religious exemption from the student COVID vaccination requirement, the following considerations apply:

We will grant a religious exemption from vaccination for students who have demonstrated sincerely held religious beliefs against vaccination and who have submitted the required documentation to support their request.

●        Social, political, and economic beliefs and philosophies, or personal preferences alone, do not constitute religious beliefs.

●        Students requesting this exemption understand and agree that they are assuming all potential risks of non-vaccination, including the risk of death due to COVID. Please read information about the vaccine here and on the CDC website. 

●        Students with an approved exemption will be required to comply with the university’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program and other preventive measures including, but not limited to, masking, social distancing and isolation/quarantine protocols, as determined by the university.

●        In the event of an outbreak on or near campus, all students who are not fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine, including those students with an approved exemption, may be temporarily excluded from all campus facilities and activities, for their protection, until the outbreak is determined to be over.

●        None of the restrictions or limitations imposed by the university for the safety of students and other community members will entitle students to any reduction in tuition, housing or other fees.

Religious exemption requests will be reviewed by the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising staff from Student Affairs, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office.

Students who requested a religious exemption will receive instructions for the information they are required to submit to the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee so their request can be reviewed and approved or denied.  

Students requesting a religious exemption are asked to provide a brief personal statement below explaining why the COVID-19 vaccine is against their religious beliefs and why they are requesting this religious exemption (including any supporting documentation of their belief from a religious body). Their statement must also indicate whether other immunizations are against their religious beliefs (in other words if they submitted an exemption request for other Lehigh-required immunizations this year or in the past).  

Students should 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.

Students requesting a medical exemption are required to provide a written letter from their treating health provider documenting the medical indication for exemption and a recommendation that they not be vaccinated. 

Students with questions about a medical exemption should contact the Health and Wellness Center by sending a secure message through the Patient Portal.

Students with questions about a religious exemption should contact the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee by emailing increp@lehigh.edu. 

Any students whose requests are denied will be required to schedule their first vaccine dose within seven calendar days of receiving the university’s decision.

Students who have submitted an exemption request and decided to proceed with getting vaccinated should inform the Health and Wellness Center and/or the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee that you are withdrawing your request and you should upload your verification of vaccination to the Health and Wellness Center Patient Portal https://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/content/how-find-covid-19-immunization-history-or-exemption-form as soon as possible upon completion of first dose.

Upon receiving your first vaccine dose, the HWC will approve a time-limited exemption to allow you time to be fully vaccinated.  During that time, students will be considered “not fully vaccinated” and must follow all university protocols for unvaccinated students at https://coronavirus.lehigh.edu/vaccination-resources#exemption.

 

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

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

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.

Students now have access to the COVID vaccine exemption request form on the HWC website. Follow the directions for requesting an exemption

 

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.

In limited cases, students may receive a university-approved medical or religious exemption from the COVID vaccination requirement. As is the case for unvaccinated faculty and staff, unvaccinated students will be required to:

  • Participate in mandatory COVID surveillance testing
  • Follow CDC guidelines for quarantining if they are identified as a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID. ***COVID-positive and close contact residential unvaccinated students or students eligible for a booster who have not yet received a booster will be required to make arrangements to isolate (if they test positive) or quarantine (if they are a close contact) off campus and will not be permitted to remain in university housing.***
  • Complete a daily symptom self-assessment
  • Wear a mask even if the university requirement is lifted

Students exempted from COVID vaccination will have access to campus facilities and services, including classrooms, housing and dining, with potential additional health and safety measures in place. If COVID infection rates or adverse campus conditions necessitate, additional mitigation protocols may be applied for unvaccinated students, including limiting their access to Lehigh residence halls or campus buildings or limiting their participation in in-person activities. This information is provided to students during the process of requesting an exemption. 

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

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

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

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

Academics

If the percentage of students in isolation for COVID in a class (section) is greater than 30%, the instructor can move to remote instruction until students return from isolation. Isolation typically lasts 10 days after a positive test result. If the instructor becomes symptomatic or receives a positive COVID test result, the instructor should shift the class to remote instruction until the instructor receives a confirmed negative test result or, in the case of a positive test, is cleared to return to work. Alternatively, if the instructor is too sick to teach, the class can be rescheduled or an alternative instructor can be found.

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

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.

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.

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, testing areas, or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in a specific location within the last 24 hours.

With the exception of cross-registering for courses at LVAIC institutions, Lehigh students may not be simultaneously enrolled at two institutions; that is, students may not take Lehigh courses and take courses at another institution at the same time. Generally speaking, students who wish to take courses at another university would need to take a leave of absence if they are continuing students or defer their admission.

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 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. 

 

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.

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

  • Masks are required indoors in public spaces for both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals, including in classrooms, shared offices, laboratories, meeting spaces and fitness areas, as well as on buses. (Surgical, KN-95, or KF-94 masks are encouraged when possible.)
  • Masks are also encouraged for indoor off-campus gatherings.
  • Outdoors, masks are not required but are strongly encouraged in settings where social distancing between individuals or family groups is not possible.
  • Organizers of outdoor events have the latitude to require masks at their outdoor events, recognizing that venue size and density may be factors.
  • Eating during the course of an indoor meeting, event or gathering is now permitted ONLY during a non-essential portion; read more >
  • For any social interactions, even in outdoor settings, be mindful of social distancing and consider wearing a face mask for additional mitigation of transmission.
  • Masks may be removed when people are alone in any space. 
  • Masks may be removed while dining in designated dining areas (if in-person dining is occurring).
  • Roommates and suitemates are not required to wear masks in their private rooms but all students living in the residence halls should wear a mask in hallways and other common areas. 
  • Face coverings should be worn over your mouth and nose. 
  • A face shield is NOT an appropriate substitute for a face covering/mask (read more under "Other Types of Face Protection.")

The emergence of the more contagious Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19, and evidence that vaccinated people infected with this variant can spread the virus to others, has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update its mask guidance.  We have updated our masking policy in response to this change from the CDC. 

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. We will also continue to monitor local transmission rates in Northampton County, as the CDC has advised, and on campus and in South Bethlehem. In addition, we continue to strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Even with this new information, the 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. 

Roommates and suitemates are not required to wear masks in their private rooms (unless isolating for a positive COVID test), but all students living in the residence halls should wear a mask in hallways and other common areas.

 

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.

  • 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.

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

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

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. 

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. 

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. Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine but at this time may still be referred to be tested. If not fully vaccinated and required to quarantine, demonstrating a negative COVID-19 test does not eliminate the need to quarantine.

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. 

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 may sign up for close contact testing here. Students who are symptomatic should call the HWC at 610-758-3870 to get tested as soon as possible. Faculty and staff who are symptomatic should call the university’s Employee Health Nurse Case Manager from Lehigh Valley Health Network at 610-861-8080 ext. 23504.

 

 

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.

For all undergraduate and graduate students:

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

For faculty and staff:

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

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

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

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

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

If the percentage of students in isolation for COVID in a class (section) is greater than 30%, the instructor can move to remote instruction until students return from isolation. Isolation typically lasts 10 days after a positive test result. If the instructor becomes symptomatic or receives a positive COVID test result, the instructor should shift the class to remote instruction until the instructor receives a confirmed negative test result or, in the case of a positive test, is cleared to return to work. Alternatively, if the instructor is too sick to teach, the class can be rescheduled or an alternative instructor can be found.

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

No. 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). For surveillance testing (a PCR test), you will not be tested again for 90 days from the date symptoms started or the date of the positive test.

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

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.

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

International Students

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

Isolation and Quarantine

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). For surveillance testing (a PCR test), you will not be tested again for 90 days from the date symptoms started or the date of the positive test.

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 inlutest@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.

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

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 are vaccinated and boosted and are not exhibiting any COVID symptoms, you do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day five following exposure. Sign up for an appointment here: LU - Schedule Your COVID-19 CLOSE CONTACT Test. If symptoms develop, get tested immediately by contacting the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870 (via separate testing) and isolate using the isolation instructions. 
  • COVID-positive and close contact residential unvaccinated students or students eligible for a booster who have not yet received a booster will be required to make arrangements to isolate (if they test positive) or quarantine (if they are a close contact) off campus and will not be permitted to remain in university housing. (During the vaccine exemption approval process, students were notified of this possibility.) If symptoms develop, get tested immediately by contacting the Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870; otherwise, sign up for an appointment to get tested on day five following exposure. 

Read Lehigh’s updated isolation and quarantine policy for the Spring 2022 semester here.