Lehigh’s announcement of scaled-back campus activities due to COVID-19 has left students with fewer areas to study on-campus.
Academic buildings, libraries and other campus facilities are inaccessible following Lehigh’s decision to temporarily transition to remote learning.
Students are expected to keep up with their courses, posing inconveniences to anyone who prefers leaving their residence hall or off-campus house to study.
Although Bethlehem and Pennsylvania more broadly have taken steps to minimize gatherings to avoid further spreading COVID-19, there are still places where students can go to study.
On days with nice weather, any coffee shop in Bethlehem that offers outdoor seating is a practical location to study, since free Wi-Fi will likely be provided. Despite Starbucks and Saxbys prohibiting customers to dine indoors, other coffee establishments, like Dunkin’ Donuts on 4th Street, offer dine-in. Students can study in designated areas while enjoying a cup of coffee or snack.
For courses that don’t require access to Wi-Fi in order to study, most public parks in Bethlehem have picnic tables. If students bring their textbooks and print any other materials they need beforehand, the park can be an enjoyable, stress-free environment for studying. Students that have unlimited data can use a personal hotspot if they need to join a Zoom meeting at the park.
The park can also provide a social setting where students can take study breaks and interact with each other while practicing social distancing. This may include a picnic meal on the grass, tossing around a frisbee or shooting a basketball.
While outdoor spaces may not be the most ideal during winter, according to CDC guidelines it is a safer option than being inside a public establishment, where the virus can spread more easily.
Many restaurants in South Bethlehem are taking the proper steps to ensure their customers abide by the COVID-19 guidelines.
For instance, Southside 313 Bar & Grille offers outdoor seating when the weather permits. When indoor seating is the only option, tables are separated enough to maintain social distancing. Students can enjoy a meal and use free Wi-Fi while getting a couple of hours of work done.
Many other restaurants on Third and 4th streets offer similar seating arrangements to Southside 313 and are within walking distance for Lehigh students living on and off-campus.
Just as it is important for students to have the opportunity of leaving their bedroom to find a convenient place to study, restaurants in Bethlehem are working hard to stay in business amidst the pandemic. They are still encouraging Lehigh students to dine in with them.
As long as safety guidelines continue to be strictly enforced by employees, students utilizing small businesses that are currently open is a win-win for both sides.