To the campus community:

As a followup to the message sent on Monday, I am sad to report that our COVID-19 case count continues to trend dangerously upward. We are stretching the capacity of our physical spaces as well as our human resources in an effort to keep pace with the number of new cases. We have seen 30 new student cases since Sunday.

We are moving to Operational Level 2 immediately and will remain there until at least April 25 in an effort to stem the rate of infection. The restrictions in Operational Level 2 are largely related to gathering in groups and restricting travel and does not impact classroom or research activity. The increased case counts follow a large bump in travel during the recent holidays and increasing reports that students are forgoing wearing masks, gathering in larger groups than is permitted and that many mitigation behaviors have slipped. 

Key features of Operational Level 2:

  • Informal social gatherings revert to a limit of five.
  • Travel is discouraged for any student who is not fully vaccinated or traveling to get vaccinated. 
  • Dining halls are open for sit down meals, but taking food to go is encouraged. The Trolley Stop Diner will open as planned but may, at the discretion of dining staff, reduce group sizes.
  • Students may host a guest from other residence halls in their bedrooms but not in common areas within residence halls.
  • No outside visitors should come to campus. This does not include visitors sponsored by campus offices (admissions, development, career services).

Also please note the previously circulated message from Student Involvement, suspending all in-person activities for student groups through 8 a.m. on April 26. This does not include activities sponsored by academic or other departments where there is supervision during the event.

I have noted a drop in close contacts for recently reported COVID-19 cases and want to commend the students who have limited their unique social contacts as much as possible. This trend really needs to continue. If we can’t rein this in, our ability to offer in-person instruction and to end the year with the type of in-person activities we wish to hold (Commencement, senior sendoff, etc.) will be jeopardized.  

It remains very important for us to receive accurate information about the number of students vaccinated. Many of you have recently taken advantage of local opportunities to receive vaccines through Lehigh Valley Health Network, CVS or other outlets. More than 450 students completed the COVID-19 vaccination survey to let us know that you have received one or more doses of vaccine. Having an accurate count of students vaccinated gives us the best data to make decisions about risk of spread. If you have not done so, please fill out the survey.

I understand the tendency to read these messages and become frustrated. We want you to have as normal a life as is possible during a pandemic. We are not trying to punish those of you who are following the guidance. Please just keep following it. Your energy should be directed at doing the things that keep you from getting COVID-19 such as wearing a mask, limiting your time with others, and keeping the number of unique social contacts small. Do it because it is the right thing to do for your own health and for the health of others. 

Annette Diorio
Vice President for Campus Life