Schools in Philadelphia Area Forced to Go Online or Hybrid Due to Rise in COVID-19 Cases


Courtesy of 6abc

Temple University students in Philadelphia.

Sophia Pedro Staff Writer

The decision of whether college campuses were going to reopen for the Fall 2020 semester was constantly on the minds of many throughout the summer. Although the University  has decided to return with a hybrid learning format, it is no surprise that many others did not return to campus at all, as the culture of college campuses poses an extreme threat to the health of students, staff and faculty. 

Universities across the country have devised extensive plans for testing, social distancing and hybrid learning to allow their students to return to campus this fall. This includes numerous schools across Pennsylvania, all with different plans of action. The following institutions decided to return to campus this fall: Temple, Drexel, Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell, St. Joseph’s and even Penn State, which is home to over 40,000 students on the State College campus alone. 

However, along with many other schools across the country, The University of Pennsylvania decided against opening its doors for the Fall 2020 semester.

As of Sept. 3, Temple University has reverted back to wholly online instruction, after returning in August, with the expectation of a few in-person classes. According to Temple’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of Sept. 15, 402 students have tested positive for the virus since returning to campus; Temple has about 29,000 undergraduate students. According to Temple’s official COVID-19 webpage, the University’s decision to revert was data driven and came after consulting  numerous “healthcare professionals and leaders at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.”

A letter from the President of the University was sent to the entire student body outlining what will happen from here on out; this letter was then made available to the public.

In accordance with that letter, about 95% of Temple’s classes have moved online, with the exception of “essentials-only courses,” which “are those for which educational objectives cannot be achieved without all or some in-person instruction.” 

However, Temple is not requiring that students vacate their on-campus housing; if students wish to remain for the rest of the semester, taking their online classes in their residence halls, they will be allowed to do so.

It is likely that Temple will be the one of many universities across the United States that will revert back to online learning, as they feel it is the best option to ensure everyone’s safety. Institutions of all sizes are struggling to control the highly contagious virus, and it is likely that we will see many more closings across the country in the coming months. However, there are also some schools that have been doing well in terms of containment. 

Along with Bucknell, Drexel and Penn State, Saint Joseph’s is offering both online and hybrid courses this semester. Lehigh is also offering a hybrid approach, but the majority of its courses are online, and most of their students remained home.

According to the respective schools’ COVID-19 dashboards, as of Sept. 15, St. Joseph’s has had 72 cumulative cases, Bucknell has had 16 cumulative, Drexel has had 20 cases, Lafayette has had five cases, Penn State has had 1,145 cases and Lehigh has had seven positive cases. With the exception of St. Joe’s and Drexel, the other universities listed above have implemented surveillance testing for either all of their students — on a daily or weekly basis — or a random sample of students daily. 

As of now, Temple is the only university in close proximity to Villanova to recently move from a hybrid approach to distance learning.