Lehigh's COVID-19 dashboard is currently reporting 32 active cases of COVID-19 among students and four cases among faculty. (Emma Satin/BW Staff)

BREAKING: COVID-19 Response Team to reduce restrictions due to dwindling positivity rate

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In a Feb. 25, email to the campus community, Lehigh’s COVID-19 Response Team announced a series of updates to the standing coronavirus policies and restrictions. 

The combined on-campus and off-campus positivity rate has decreased to less than 1 percent, down from a 4.2 percent positivity rate the previous week and an 8.5 percent positivity rate the week prior. 

According to the Lehigh COVID-19 Dashboard, as of Feb. 24, there are 117 active cases on campus, 34 of which are among students in residence halls. The remaining 83 cases are among students living off campus in the Bethlehem area. 

Atop the list of policy changes is the reopening of in-person classes for students whose courses allow, effective Monday, March 1. 

Reduced restrictions also include those regarding student gatherings. According to the email, students will no longer be limited to interactions with their immediate households. The school additionally plans to open distanced on-campus spaces in the University Center for increased socialization, effective immediately. 

The Response Team acknowledged a heightened need for social options for students, both on and off campus. 

“In response to student requests for safe study and socializing areas, and given what we know about where transmission is least likely to occur, we are identifying additional spaces where students can be together in low-density environments,” the COVID-19 Response Team said in the email. 

The updated regulations now permit students to interact with peers who are not in their immediate home or residence hall, as long as no student is under mandatory quarantine by the school. 

The gathering limit for indoor activities remains at five people, but the outdoor gathering limit has been increased to 15, effective immediately. 

The Team affirmed the continued requirement for mask wearing in indoor and outdoor spaces as well as physical distancing from other groups at all times. The COVID-19 Response Team continues to urge the wearing of two masks, as recommended by the CDC. 

The Response Team also shared plans for the reopening of Taylor Gym, which will continue to have capacity limits and a series of safety modifications. The fitness facility in the Singleton, Hitch and Maida residence halls will remain closed, but is subject to change pending future positivity rates. 

In the event positivity rates in residence halls continue to decrease, the COVID-19 Response Team hopes to reopen in-person dining in small increments. 

This is a developing story. Please return to thebrownandwhite.com for continued updates on Lehigh’s COVID-19 rules and regulations.

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