Local Universities Approach Fall Semester Differently

Emily Cox Co-Editor-in-Chief

Temple University has officially suspended in-person classes for two weeks after 103 students tested positive for COVID-19.

In an announcement to the Temple community on Sunday, Temple President Richard Englert wrote that in-person classes will be held from Monday, Aug. 31 until Friday, Sept. 11. Only classes designated as essential by the dean of a school of college will be held in person.

On Friday, Temple reported 58 active COVID-19 cases, but additional test results received over the weekend raised the total count. More than 5,000 tests have been conducted at the school over the last two weeks. 

“An assessment of the situation will be made during this period to determine the best course moving forward,” Englert wrote in the announcement. “We are hopeful, of course, that we will be able to return to the full hybrid program in place at the start of the semester, but any such decision will be driven by the data and public health guidance available at the time.”

Other Philadelphia area colleges, including the University of Pennsylvania, have moved classes online prior to the start of the school year. University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett announced in an email on Aug. 11 that students would not be permitted to return to on-campus housing, and the vast majority of classes would be held online. Pritchett announced this only 10 days prior to stating that the University would mail all domestic undergraduates COVID-19 tests. The school had also laid out extensive plans for symptom testing, health regulations, and move-in processes.

Drexel University President John Fry announced on Aug. 19 that Drexel would hold classes online for the fall and close on-campus housing.

Haverford gave faculty and students the option of remote or in-person teaching and learning. Currently, 54% of classes will be virtual and 46% in person at the school.

Swarthmore invited freshmen, sophomores and some upperclassmen to campus for the first semester. The school was prepared to accommodate 900 students, but fewer than 700 came back to campus.

In a similar approach to the University, St. Joseph’s University has invited students back and has reopened parts of campus. The school started on Monday, Aug. 24, just one week after Villanova’s reopening. Students there are also required to wear mask, socially distance and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

Unlike Villanova, St. Joseph’s has been updating its COVID-19 dashboard just once per week, rather than once per day.