August 31, 2020
UPDATE: Temple University decided stop holding nearly all in-person classes for the remainder of the fall semester on Thursday, Sept. 3
A coronavirus outbreak among a group of students has forced Temple University to implement a 14-day "pause" on in-person classes.
Starting on Monday, any class that doesn't require in-person instruction will conduct all-remote learning through at least Friday, Sept. 11, Temple President Richard Englert said.
Classes that are already online will not be impacted, and only classes that have been deemed essential will still be held in-person during the next two weeks.
The school reported 103 active cases of COVID-19 among students on Sunday after conducting more than 5,000 tests over the last two weeks. While most who have tested positive are asymptomatic, some are experiencing mild flu-like symptoms.
Englert said Temple officials believe this outbreak of coronavirus cases stems from small, off-campus social gatherings. As a result, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health was forced to revise its guidance regarding social gatherings among the city's college students this past weekend.
No more than 25 people should hang out at indoor gatherings, and no more than 50 people should get together outdoors. Events where students are not wearing face masks or practicing social distancing should not be taking place.
As a result of the recent outbreak, the university is urging students to wear face coverings on and off campus, avoid social gatherings of any size, and cancel any travel plans.
The university also is collaborating with city health officials to test and contact trace cases. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should be tested, and anyone who came in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus should self-quarantine for two weeks.
Temple remains hopeful it will be able to return to its hybrid learning model for the fall semester, but any decision to move forward will be driven by public health data and guidance.
"Since the very first reports of COVID-19 touched our lives, Temple has consistently held one position: We will do the best we can to keep our community healthy and safe, while ensuring our students receive an excellent education and continue progress to graduation," Temple University President Richard Englert said.
"I want to thank all of our students, faculty and administrative staff members for your cooperation so far. We are counting on your continued diligence as we meet the challenges ahead. Rest assured that we will continue to base our decisions on data and the advice of medical and health professionals. We are in this together, so we can be together."
Dining and residence halls will remain open, and student support services will continue operations too.
Temple's decision to revert to virtual learning for the next two weeks comes just a week after the fall semester began.
The Temple Association of University Professionals, the school's faculty union, said that two weeks of online-only instruction is not enough. The group has been among several on campus calling for an all-remote education model this semester.
"We need to do everything possible to keep people from falling ill with this terrible virus," the organization wrote on Facebook.
Thanks to @PHLPublicHealth, @TempleUniv will be online for at least 2 weeks. TY @DrTomFarley @TempleTSG @templecoalition @marclamonthill & faculty, students+employees who have shared their experiences. But #2WeeksWontDoIt. https://t.co/8EAMGu7bje— TAUP (@TAUP) August 30, 2020
Temple Student Government has called for online-only classes for the entire fall term and all residence halls to close. The organization did not immediately respond for comment on Monday morning.