Dear Temple students,
It has been wonderful to welcome students and their families to campus for the fall semester. As I walked around campus, wearing my mask and greeting people during move-in, I saw so many students eager to both begin and continue their Temple education abiding by the four public health pillars—including wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing. This gives me true confidence in our ability to have a successful semester. We’ve said it many times before, but we’re truly in this together, so we can be together.
With the start of fall courses upon us, I wanted to remind each of you of the important role you play in ensuring we all have the best possible experience. Over the summer, the university has worked to develop a number of resources and tools to help you get used to the “new normal.” It’s important that you use these resources, complete an online training and continue to observe the public health behaviors needed to keep each other safe and healthy. You can read more in our Return Guide for Students.
Testing and contact tracing
As you know, COVID-19 tests are being required of all students moving into university housing. Throughout the month of September, Student Health will conduct additional tests of students who live or work in elevated risk environments. Not all students will be tested every week. Tests of sample populations will be conducted as a safety precaution and to help identify any potential clusters of positive cases on campus. If at any point you experience COVID-19 symptoms, contact Student Health Services at 215-204-7500. You may need to be referred to Temple’s on-campus COVID-19 testing center. Additionally, you will be notified by the university’s contact tracing team if you come into close contact with someone who has tested positive, and will receive instructions on quarantining and testing.
What to do if you test positive
If you receive a positive test result from a provider other than Student Health Services, you must inform Student Health Services immediately. By contacting Student Health, you will initiate the first step needed for the Contact Tracing Unit to begin identifying and providing guidance to your close contacts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define close contacts as anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. Contact tracers identifying these people and giving them the information they need is critical in slowing the spread of the virus. And while your identity will be kept confidential, it’s important for the university to be able to update the COVID-19 dashboard to provide the community with the utmost transparency about case counts on campus.
Doing your part
By now, we’re all familiar with the four public health pillars–properly wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distancing, practicing good hand hygiene and monitoring our health. To confirm that you understand why it’s so important to continue these behaviors, you will soon be asked to complete an online training that emphasizes the shared responsibility we have as members of the Temple community. This training will provide information on how to keep these behaviors integrated into your daily life and the rules the university has created to enforce them.
You’ll notice some of these protective measures in any in-person classes you attend this fall. If students are not properly wearing a mask in classroom settings, expect your instructor to remind students to wear their masks and request that they do so. If students do not comply, the instructor may refuse to move forward with teaching until everyone is in compliance, or reschedule the class for a different setting. Students whose behaviors result in rescheduled courses may be referred to Student Conduct for disciplinary action.
In addition, students whose behaviors, on and off campus, violate the city ordinances and guidance regarding face masks, occupancy and gathering limits, and parties may also be subject to interim exclusions from campus and further disciplinary action.
To promote healthy behaviors among students learning both in person and remotely, you will find a rotating series of questions in TUportal aimed at encouraging your adherence to the four pillars. And, as an added bonus for your efforts to keep the community healthy, there’s an incentive for submitting your answers. More details will be available soon in TUportal.
You’ll also find in TUportal a Travel Tracker. If you travel outside of Pennsylvania and plan to return to campus, you will need to log your travel in the Travel Tracker form on TUportal. This will help the university with any potential contact tracing efforts. It’s important to keep this in mind as you consider making plans for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
You will also see students donning light blue vests across Main Campus this semester. These are our amazing student community health ambassadors, and they’re here to help remind students, faculty, staff and visitors of healthy behaviors. They’re also a resource for you, so feel free to approach them with questions about on-campus COVID-19 testing or where you can get a mask if you forgot yours.
Updates to campus operation
With so much changing on campus this semester, I’m sure you have questions about what’s open and when. Many of the campus resources you rely on remain available to you, although some may be operating remotely to reduce crowds on campus. A color-coded list of resources will be available on TUportal, with the colors indicating which services are offered fully in person, fully remote or through a hybrid model. A number of resources on campus are making use of scheduling apps, which allows you to get in line remotely and not have to worry about crowds in on-campus offices. Learn more about the technology applications available to you this semester.
Several spaces on campus have been designated as Zoom zones, or areas where you can sit to attend online classes. Most academic buildings on campus will have these spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis. And, if you’re planning to use these, you’ll want to be prepared. These zones have been set up to accommodate anywhere from five to 20 students, so be sure to bring headphones with you and let your instructor know if you need to communicate by the chat feature. More information about Zoom zones will become available in the next week.
In a normal semester, the TECH Center is a hub of activity. However, capacity within the building has been reduced in order to ensure physical distancing can be maintained within the labs. The hours are different this semester, too. Starting on Monday, Aug. 24, the TECH Center will be open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The same system for making reservations remains in place. Learn more about TECH Center operations.
You’ll still be able to reserve some of the study spaces in Charles Library, but, like the TECH Center, capacity has been reduced to allow for physical distancing. And how you enter and exit the building is different. You can enter the building from 13th Street and will exit out to Liacouras Walk (there will be directional signage to help you along the way). Read more about changes at Temple Libraries this fall.
This semester, all dining will be take-out only. We’ve worked to ensure that all menus have been adapted to offer the highest quality options with transportability in mind. There will also be designated places outdoors for you to eat your meals, if you’re unable to return to your residence at meal times. When using the outdoor dining facilities, make sure to remove and safely store your mask while you’re eating, but put it back on as soon as you’re finished. And be sure to properly dispose of any food and drink containers. You should also know that eating and drinking will not be permitted in class, so plan accordingly. Get more information about changes to campus dining.
We know that many of you rely on public transportation to travel to and from campus and around Philadelphia. SEPTA is bringing back more of its regular service across all modes of transportation, including buses, subways, trolleys and Regional Rail lines, and several public health safety measures aimed to protect riders have been implemented.
Shuttle services between Main Campus, the Health Sciences Center and Ambler Campus will also be available throughout the fall semester, with increased cleaning and disinfecting measures and reduced capacity to protect riders. However, you must make a reservation in advance of your trip and will not be allowed to board the shuttle without one. See the full shuttle schedule.
Student Organization Events
Students who are members of or who join student organizations should expect some changes to events. New measures, including guidelines and regulations for how student organizations use space around campus, are available and should be considered before planning any events.
We recognize that this semester is different from what anyone expected or hoped for, but the university has made a significant effort to achieve some sense of normalcy. Our mutual cooperation in protecting each other's health and safety is our best path forward this fall. I sincerely look forward to taking this journey with you.
Dean of Students