While COVID-19 perseveres, Temple University plans to do the same. On March 1, 2020, Temple University President Richard Englert announced plans for a fall semester “primarily in person”, with what Englert says will have a broad range of classes in-person on the school’s campus. This includes opening resident halls, athletic centers, dining halls, as well as the student center and academic buildings.
The move comes after news of COVID-19 vaccination production being increased, allowing for the possibility that more students and staff can be protected against the virus before returning to work and class.
Englert said in an email to the student body announcing the Lewis Katz School of Medicine has already accomplished 50,000 tests this semester, which has shown Temple’s positivity rate below 1%.
In Philadelphia County as a whole however, while the virus is slowing down, new cases are still occurring. As of March 5, total confirmed cases reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Health have hit 110,214, however the new cases have dropped down to as low as 300.
This doesn’t sooth every student mind though. Temple University Junior Brianna Pysher says she is cautiously optimistic about the school’s plan, but the idea is something she is interested in.
“In theory, if everyone got their vaccinations and followed official guidelines, we could have a great semester back on campus,” Pysher said. “However, no one necessarily knows for sure that returning to campus is the best thing to do.”
Pysher said that due to the pandemic, online classes were hard to assimilate to, a thought many students have echoed in the past months. She says she is in favor of in-person classes if it is handled correctly.
“I think I am the first person to be rooting for going back to in-person classes next semester,” Pysher said. “But it is imperative that we are in a safe environment and protecting those around us.”
Some students have had the idea that mandatory vaccines for returning students may be the way to go forward to ensure the safest campus come fall. Emma Ford, a junior and survivor of COVID-19 says she believes most students can be cautious and understand that even though they are in person, the risk is not over.
“I also think that instituting a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for students before they return to campus would be extremely beneficial,” Ford said. “With that being said I understand that nothing is set in stone and plans may change. We all just have to be flexible.”
Currently, those who want the vaccine can fill out an interest form with the Philadelphia Department of Health to see their risk of being infected or transmitting the virus. More doses are expected to roll out soon as the spring continues, with the hopes of reaching President Biden’s federal goal of 100 million vaccinations within the first 100 days of his presidency.
Throughout Pennsylvania there are currently 939,327 individuals fully vaccinated, with Philadelphia county accounting for 17,971 of those vaccinations.
President Englert has confirmed that Temple University will continue to follow city, state and federal health guidelines as they move forward with the plan and will continue to share information as it is released.