In a Feb. 25 email, Lehigh announced that it anticipates housing availability for most students who want to live on campus next fall.
This preliminary information regarding housing is based on the expectation of improvements both in the country and in the Bethlehem-area in terms of the quantity and severity of COVID-19 cases.
As such, this call may be subject to adjustment.
“The decision to offer housing more broadly was made in anticipation of a more typical semester at Lehigh given the expectation that COVID infection rates will be significantly lower by fall 2021 due to widespread vaccinations,” said Lori Friedman, director of media relations, in an email.
Since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered late last year, over 92.1 million doses have been administered as of this month.
If the trend continues, more college students will be able to get vaccinated in the time leading up to the fall semester, allowing many college campuses to return to more normal campus life.
As for COVID-19 safety precautions in the fall, Friedman said it will continue to be a community-wide effort to promote safety.
She said all decisions will be made in accordance with advice from public health agencies, experts and the health and safety needs of the Lehigh community.
Some students who opted to live off campus and do coursework remotely have expressed both concern and excitement for a semester where most students can return to campus.
Diana Shaipi, ‘24, a student working remotely in North Macedonia this semester and last, spoke of the change in her attitude about students going back to campus.
“I feel like if you asked me this two months ago, I would’ve said no… Now I’m going insane,” she said.
Remote learning has presented challenges for students socially and academically that would have a chance to be alleviated with an in-person fall.
Even students who have been careful during the pandemic are longing to get back to a sense of normalcy, and may have the opportunity to do so in fall 2021.
Shaipi also said she is concerned about campus closing.
“I’m afraid, because I live abroad, if campus were to close down, it would be very expensive for me to get back home,” she said.
Will Gregory, ‘24, a student who is interested in Greek life housing, said he believes that the decision to expand housing for next semester would be better off being made at a later date when more information is available.
He said he would’ve preferred a decision be made over the summer because of the potential unknowns.
“I would like to go back to normal, but that wouldn’t be in the best interest of the staff who is older,” Gregory said.
Omar Camacho, ‘24, also chose to spend his first year in college online. He said he has hope for a fall semester much closer to, but not entirely normal.
He said he is worried about the lack of leeway that could be given to students, that if one person messes up, the whole school has to be cautious.
“That’s not how it should be,” he said.
While the decision to expand housing still has uncertainties, Lehigh is working to provide students an experience as close as possible to normal while upholding the safety standards in place.