October 27, 2020
Temple University is planning to resume in-person instruction in January with changes to the academic calendar that administrators hope will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
Most significantly for students, the university has eliminated next semester's spring break, according to a letter school’s Executive Vice President and Provost JoAnne Epps announced on Monday. This will prevent students from traveling home or to vacation destinations in the middle of the semester and then returning to campus, which in part reduces their potential exposure to the coronavirus and then bringing it back to school.
“Last year’s experience taught us that travel during spring break led to multiple positive cases among students, both nationwide and abroad,” Epps said.
Canceling spring break also allows for the second part of Temple's plan for the spring semester: starting classes eight days later than originally scheduled.
Spring classes will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 19, instead of Monday, Jan. 11. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is encouraging college students to self-quarantine before returning to campuses, and Temple's new start date will more than two weeks between New Year's Day and the start of in person classes.
These changes come after Temple had attempted to have students living on campus and attending a hybrid schedule of in-person and virtual classes in the fall semester. Hundreds of students tested positive for COVID-19 last semester, causing the university pause in-person classes for two weeks as a precaution. But as the outbreak worsened, the school shifted to remote learning for the remainder of the semester.
During the extended winter break, college will offer "online, short-duration winter session courses," Epps said.
The school will be releasing its COVID-19 testing plan, spring course schedule, on-campus housing information, and other details about the upcoming semester soon.
Epps urged students to continue wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, monitoring themselves for COVID-19 symptoms, and frequently washing their hands.
“I know it can be fatiguing at times, but as we head toward colder weather and spending more time indoors, these pillars are vital to maintaining a healthy community,” Epps said. “We remain in this together so we can be together.”
Approximately 95% of Temple's classes are now being conducted online. Only classes that have been deemed essential are operating in-person.
Residence halls have stayed open for students who either wanted or needed to stay on campus. Students who chose to leave the dorms by Sept. 13 received full refunds for their housing and meal plans. Academic, support and health services are still available.
Temple's faculty union, which called on the university to implement online-only classes for the fall semester, is demanding non-essential classes continue to be held virtually through May.
The Temple Association of University Professionals claimed it would be irresponsible to revive in-person instruction during the spring semester.
The union, which represents academics, faculty and librarians, says nearly 80% of its members have voiced their preference for remote learning to continue until next summer.