March 02, 2021
Temple University is preparing to conduct a majority of its classes in person this fall, envisioning the new academic year as a "turning point" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The university expects to bring a "substantial number" of students back to campus for the fall semester, President Richard Englert wrote in a letter to the university community Monday.
Dorms, dining halls, academic buildings and athletic and recreational facilities are expected to be open, with the hope of restoring a "vibrant campus experience," he added. Many faculty and staffers will be on site to provide support.
The Temple Association of University Professionals did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last fall, the faculty union called for remote learning to continue through May.
Some classes and activities will remain virtual this fall due to the ongoing public health crisis, and Englert stressed the university's plans will remain flexible.
But university officials are optimistic that a ramp-up in COVID-19 vaccine production will allow more students and educators to return to campus this fall, Englert said. Temple is currently working with city officials to make its campus a vaccine distribution point for the university members and North Philly residents.
Englert also pointed to the school's $10 million COVID-19 testing program, which has conducted 50,000 tests this semester. He credited the program for the university's positivity rate remaining below 1%.
"Looking back, I continue to be amazed by the transformation we have undergone," Englert wrote. "While no one wanted to leave campus, we can take comfort in knowing that Temple has done all it can to ensure that classes continue, students are making progress toward graduation, and the safety of our community has been assured."
Temple is among the first local universities to lay out plans for the fall semester. Penn State University announced its plan to resume in-person instruction last week.
The University of Pennsylvania, which has welcomed back undergraduate students for on-campus living, also is reportedly considering expanding in-person instruction, but faculty and staffers will not return to campus until July — at the earliest.
Temple began the academic year by offering in-person instruction, but switched to a hybrid model after COVID-19 cases spiked within the first month of the fall semester. About 95% of classes transitioned online. That figured has dropped to 87% during the spring semester.
The university also has eliminated its spring break to prevent students from traveling home or vacationing elsewhere during the middle of the semester.