Lehigh announced new testing and quarantine protocols for the spring 2021 semester. All undergraduate students returning to Bethlehem, regardless of remote or non-remote status, will be required to complete arrival and pre-arrival testing in addition to quarantining upon arrival. (Sara Boyd/B&W Staff)

UPDATE: Lehigh announces COVID-19 spring semester arrival protocol

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With the return to campus quickly approaching, Lehigh shared updated pre-arrival protocols for the spring semester in a Jan.12 university-wide email. 

While the first day of classes is set to begin on Monday, Feb. 1, most classes planning to hold in-person activities will take place remotely until Feb. 8 to account for the first round of arrival testing provided by Vault Health, the email said.

Additionally, certain on-campus buildings and facilities will have restricted hours and increased social distancing guidelines in place, such as dining services which will only offer take-out options until Feb. 7.

All students who are living on or off-campus will be required to undergo pre-arrival testing, regardless of campus access status. Students who do not complete pre-arrival testing may have their arrival or campus access delayed. Students are able to order their own pre-arrival test via Vault Health to take at home prior to traveling back to Bethlehem, the details with how to do so will be released to students on Jan. 13.

In contrast to the Fall 2020 arrival plan, all students living in the Bethlehem area will be required to undergo two rounds of arrival testing during the first two weeks of the semester regardless of their campus access status. The university has outlined exactly who is expected to undergo testing on their coronavirus information page

In addition to undergoing testing during the first two weeks of classes, students returning to campus will be required to partake in a modified quarantine between Jan. 25 through Feb. 7. Regardless of a negative pre-arrival test result, all students will be required to comply with this obligation. This is in keeping with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s out-of-state travel guidelines.

According to the email, the modified quarantine allows for students to take “solo trips” such as walks, picking up to-go meals and other safe, individual activities. With this modified quarantine in place, the hope is to mitigate high return of positive test results during the first two weeks of testing after student’s return to campus from various areas of the country.

Throughout the semester Lehigh will continue to conduct surveillance testing to maintain awareness of the prevalence and spread of COVID-19 within the Lehigh community. All students residing in the Bethlehem area, including fully-remote students will be included in testing and according to the Lehigh coronavirus update webpage should expect to be tested every two weeks. 

Prior to returning to campus all students will be required to complete COVID-19 online training which reviews Lehigh’s policy on social distancing and community expectations.

The email recommends students limit travel away from campus during the semester for anything other than emergencies. Students who leave the area will be required to follow a testing and quarantine protocol upon return.

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