Provost Nathan Urban announced in Friday’s Faculty Senate meeting that all classes will be remote for the next two weeks. About 2,000 on and off campus students will be randomly tested on Oct. 6. (Sara Boyd/ B&W Staff)

BREAKING: All undergraduate classes will be remote for the next two weeks amid rising COVID-19 cases among students

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All undergraduate classes and most graduate classes will be remote for the next two weeks starting Oct. 5, Provost Nathan Urban announced in Friday’s Faculty Senate meeting. 

The university announced later Friday afternoon in an email that 22 new COVID-19 cases were reported on and off-campus since yesterday, with an additional 250 students in quarantine due to close contact with a known or suspected case. Those numbers are not reflected on Lehigh’s COVID-19 dashboard as of publication, which currently lists 15 positive cases in the off-campus Bethlehem area.

Four percent of students tested positive for COVID-19 in the most recent round of surveillance testing for asymptomatic students, up from previously reported numbers of less than one percent.

Additionally, about 2,000 on and off-campus students will be selected at random for testing on Oct. 6, Urban said at the Faculty Senate meeting.

This round of surveillance testing will include fully-remote students living in the Bethlehem area — an additional adjustment to the testing policy, which originally had only included non-remote students. 

The university has also extended testing to asymptomatic students who were reported to be in close contact with individuals who have tested positive. The email additionally expressed a need for students who pursue third-party, off-campus testing to report their results to Lehigh. 

Close contacts will be placed on quarantine for 14 days from the date of the last close contact, the email said. A negative test result will not eliminate the need for the close contact to quarantine.

Additional staff have been added to Lehigh’s Health and Wellness Center to help with contact tracing, the email said, and an agreement with Lehigh Valley Health Network has been extended to also help with contract tracing and offer assistance to students.

There are a number of other changes the university is implementing in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. 

Beginning Oct. 3, both libraries will be closed indefinitely, and building access to facilities other than residence halls may be limited. All athletic practices continue to be halted indefinitely. Taylor Gym has been closed as well. 

On and off-campus meetings and gatherings — both indoors and outdoors — are now limited to five people, a change from the previous limit of 10.

All dining will be shifted to takeout. Undergraduate students will also see limited swipe access to buildings on campus.

The email said, while research is permitted to continue, activities involving undergraduate students will require revised safety plans submitted to Environmental Health & Safety and undergraduate students who participate in in-person research activities must be identified. Remote work is also encouraged for all faculty and staff, and department chairs are encouraged to re-evaluate the need to have professors work on campus. 

“We know students benefit from opportunities to connect with others and relieve stress, which many of these resources help to provide,” the email said. “It is our hope that by taking this temporary action now we can mitigate the spread of the virus and keep our community safe and healthy so these activities may resume safely.”

 

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