The recent increase in COVID-19 cases on and off campus forced multiple students to change their Thanksgiving plans.
By the time the holiday break arrived, Lehigh’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 240 active positive cases, including 154 new cases in a 48-hour period. It was a record for the most active cases reported at Lehigh, and it forced the second campus closure of the semester following a major outbreak.
Chelsea Clark, ‘24, was supposed to return home to Connecticut on Nov. 20, but tested positive that same day.
Clark was on campus when she learned about her test result and ended up in isolation. She was placed in Trembley Park with another student who tested positive.
She said she was originally upset to be missing out on celebrating Thanksgiving at home, but felt better after joining a Zoom call with her whole family.
Tyler Smith, ‘23, had to cancel his trip home to New York due to a positive test result. Smith isolated for 14 days in his off-campus apartment with another student.
Smith said he was sad not to celebrate with his family, but had a Thanksgiving meal contactlessly delivered.
Clark said Lehigh Dining delivered her and her roommate in Trembley Thanksgiving meals that complied with their vegetarian diets.
“They gave us both some pretty good food surprisingly,” Clark said.
Clark said Thanksgiving felt like a typical day and the two enjoyed their meals and watched Netflix together.
There were some students who came into contact with other students who tested positive, which caused them to stay at Lehigh during the holiday.
Emily Baker, ‘22, said she was planning on flying home to the Chicago area on Nov. 22, but she chose to cancel her trip after coming into contact with someone who tested positive the week before Thanksgiving break.
Even though Baker and the student she came into contact with were both wearing masks at the time of exposure, Baker chose to quarantine in her apartment in SouthSide Commons.
She said she didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving.
“I didn’t want to come into contact with anybody, just in case,” she said. “I didn’t think it was worth it.”
Baker said the timing was disappointing because she didn’t have to quarantine at any other point during the semester, but wanted to play it safe.
Baker said even though her test came back negative, she was glad she quarantined because she didn’t want to risk spreading COVID-19 while traveling or to her family.
Baker eventually flew home to Chicago for the rest of the semester after a seven-day quarantine and getting a negative test result.
Clark returned home on Nov. 29 after completing her 14-day quarantine and testing negative, and. Smith said he is staying in his off-campus home in Bethlehem for final exams and then heading home for winter break.