Graphic by Daniella Stokic/B&W Staff

COVID-19 protocols continue with Omicron-specific booster


Since the release of the Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster at the beginning of the fall 2022 semester, Lehigh’s protocols have remained similar to the previous semester.

Before registering for classes, students were required to submit a COVID vaccination record on their Banner accounts. This requirement has been in place since the fall of 2021.

Steven Bowers, director of the Health & Wellness Center, said the current protocol is nearly the same as last semester, but students who test positive still need to be regulated.

“If students tested positive, they are given instructions to isolate themselves in place, meaning their dorm or housing, with distancing and wearing masks around other students,” Bowers said.

There were 118 total active COVID cases on campus at the end of August. There are four total cases almost a  month later, according to Lehigh’s COVID Dashboard.

Provost Nathan Urban sent a message to faculty members on Sept. 9 regarding COVID in the classroom.

“Students testing positive are instructed to isolate in their rooms for five days and wear a mask for another five,” Urban said in the announcement. “Instructors may request that students forward confirmation of a positive test that will be provided by the HWC.”

The message also stated that students should not receive academic punishments for testing positive for COVID.

Focus Miao, ‘23, tested positive for COVID on Aug. 27.

“I was quarantined at home for about three or four days, then I went back to school with a mask on because many laboratory courses could not be taught online,” Miao said. 

Miao said he is currently completing his last semester as an engineering student, so his courses are difficult, and being isolated has him worried about falling behind on coursework.

Though students have expressed concerns about the conflict between COVID and their studies, Bowers also said the current protocol provides clear guidance for students dealing with a COVID infection.

“I don’t think the current protocol is vague,” Bowers said. “We give very clear instructions which are all listed on our website and are sent by secure message from the (center) when a student tests positive.”

Bowers said the center has followed guidance from the CDC, as well as local health networks to remain consistent in regards to the vaccine, booster and isolation recommendations.

After Miao fully recovered, he said he took the latest Omicron-specific COVID booster. He said his side effects were no different from the side effects of previous COVID vaccines. 

Miao said he had a fever the day after the dose and recovered immediately after, as he had with previous boosters. 

Bindu George is a physician who works at Rite Aid on East Third Street. 

He said the Omicron-specific booster was introduced to local hospitals and care centers in early September. Both Rite Aid and CVS in Bethlehem offer Pfizer’s Omicron-specific booster. 

“People need to get the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before they can get an Omicron-specific booster,” George said. “So far, I have not received feedback on the side effects of the Omicron booster.”

More information about COVID at Lehigh University can be found on the university’s website.

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