Temple University intends to open for at least some in-person classes in the fall, as long as public health guidelines allow it, the university announced Tuesday.
And as many as a couple hundred students could be back in class on campus in three weeks. Temple will run a small pilot of in-person classes during its second summer session, starting June 23, primarily for students taught through the College of Public Health. During that session, the university will test procedures and protocols in preparation for more students returning in the fall, according to the announcement distributed to the campus.
The decisions outlined in a five-phase plan for the nearly 40,000-student campus’ reopening were made in consultation with city officials and the governor’s office, a university spokesperson said.
“While many questions remain, I am confident we can open on time as a residential university, and operate in a way that reduces the risks to our community’s health while continuing to offer quality educational experiences to our students,” president Richard M. Englert said in the campus message.
Like La Salle University announced last week, Temple will conclude on-campus classes before Thanksgiving and finish the semester remotely to reduce the risk of travel and spread.
Steve Newman, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals, said the faculty union may have some concerns.
“TAUP will be reviewing these plans closely to make sure that they serve the university’s mission and protect our students and our members,” he said. “We will demand we are partnered in a conversation about how these plans will be implemented, but we have discussions to have as a union first.”
Englert said the exact details of how online and virtual classes will be blended will be laid out later and depend on changing conditions. Generally, larger classes will be online.
“I will provide more information over the summer as plans are refined,” Englert said.
But even once the semester is underway, things could change.
“We will be ready to pivot to primarily online instruction at any point during the fall semester should it be required,” he said.
Students will be allowed to live on campus, but how many has not been determined, said spokesperson Ray Betzner. Other issues, such as dining hall operations, also are still under consideration, he said.
Some protocols have been set: The university will require face coverings in buildings and encourage them elsewhere. The university also is installing plastic-glass shields in reception areas and removing seats from public spaces to allow for proper social distancing.
The plan allows more people to return to campus in each of the five phases. The second phase, expected to begin this month, will allow more research activities on campus, as well as more activity at clinics. The second summer session will begin the third phase and the fourth phase will start Aug. 1, as more students are expected to be moving into the neighborhood, Englert said.