Several Lehigh students were issued notices of interim suspension on Oct. 6 as a result of alleged violations to the university’s COVID-19 guidelines, Holly Taylor, assistant dean of students, confirmed to The Brown and White via email.
The students will go through an “expedited COVID-19 related conduct process” that will result in a resolution “within a few days.” Students living on-campus who received these notifications of interim suspension “are expected to leave campus immediately,” and off-campus students “are banned from campus” until the resolution of their conduct case, Taylor said.
“All students (issued interim suspensions) for COVID related violations are permitted to continue online/remote learning, and exceptions are made if students need to come to campus for COVID testing or a visit with the Health and Wellness Center, or if an off-campus student has an on campus meal plan,” Taylor said.
Taylor would not say how many students have been issued notices of interim suspension. She did say, however, the cases among students are fairly evenly split between those on-campus and those off-campus.
Taylor said the cases that have resulted in interim suspension range from students failing to wear masks in residential buildings, to students refusing to put on a mask when asked by a university official, to students gathering in large groups around campus without socially distancing or wearing masks, to parties off-campus that are not in compliance with the current social contract students signed at the beginning of the semester.
Hearings are scheduled for later this week for students who were issued interim suspension notifications on Oct. 6, Taylor said.
The expedited process is “in accordance with the urgency of reducing the infection rate of the virus.” Students who were issued interim suspension notices could also see “longer-term removal from campus, loss of campus access and expulsion” pending their conduct hearing.
The escalation in disciplinary proceedings comes at a time in which COVID-19 cases are spiking on campus. In one week, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, cases among students in the Bethlehem area jumped from 15 to 85 — the majority of which were discovered through testing at outside locations, according to Lehigh’s COVID-19 dashboard. Lehigh announced new testing protocols, including random weekly surveillance testing and the decision to include fully remote students in that testing.
Lehigh announced on Oct. 2 that it would be scaling back campus activities for the next two weeks. Libraries and gyms will be closed during that time, all undergraduate classes will be remote and all on-campus dining will be takeout. Athletic practices and trainings are also paused indefinitely.