Spring 2021 course delivery and testing plan

Dear Temple Owls, 

Throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Temple community has risen to unprecedented challenges. Collectively, we have faced health issues, economic concerns, social isolation and adjusting to new ways of teaching and learning—all with the determination and grit that defines our community. 

As we look to the spring semester, it appears that many of the challenges presented by the virus will continue into 2021. But as we look ahead, we are planning a semester that will allow more students to safely return to campus for an experience that, while still following strict health protocols, will provide additional in-person opportunities. 

Adhering to guidance from city, state and federal governmental leaders, our plans for the spring semester include a blend of course delivery options, a robust COVID-19 testing protocol and a continued commitment to practicing the four public health pillars both on and off campus. 

While the virus continues to spread, evidence across institutions of higher education shows strong testing and sanitizing protocols and full community compliance with public health measures are fundamental to keeping campus case counts low. It will take effort and sacrifice from each of us to ensure a healthy and safe spring semester, but we know we can count on this community to come together in order to be together. 

A blended class structure
While the majority of spring semester classes will remain online, we have expanded the number of courses with an in-person component beyond those that require critical hands-on training and experiential learning. All courses offered with an in-person component will be taught in de-densified classroom, lab and studio settings that are as safe as possible as we continue to face the pandemic. Many schools and colleges are also planning an array of co-curricular and extracurricular in-person activities that will continue to provide opportunities for safe social interaction with faculty and fellow students and will help propel you to the next phase of your academic journey. 

Meanwhile, for online courses, our faculty will continue to employ best practices to make those classes engaging and rewarding. This blend of instructional modes gives students the opportunity to tailor their own schedules to meet their learning needs and allows faculty to ensure the best possible educational experience for students. 

Our commitment to our students remains clear: We want you to get the most out of the spring semester and make sure that you keep making progress on your academic plan. 

The spring course schedule will be published today and priority registration will begin Monday, Nov. 16. Detailed information about priority registration will follow from the Office of the Registrar.

Open campus operations
Our plan is for Main Campus to remain open in the spring. Residence halls, Charles Library, the TECH Center, Campus Recreation, the Student Center and other services that support student life will continue to be available for in-person use. In addition, a full slate of online resources, including the Career Center, Wellness Resource Center and Tuttleman Counseling Services, will continue to be available. 

Enhanced COVID-19 testing program
To further ensure the safety of our community, we will be instituting a more robust COVID-19 testing plan for the spring semester. Every student living in a residence hall, enrolled in an in-person course or assigned to clinical rotations will be tested twice a week for the entire semester. Additionally, any faculty or staff member whose work includes routine in-person interaction with students will also be eligible to be tested twice a week. Students residing off campus in the neighborhoods surrounding Temple and enrolled in a fully remote course load will be eligible to be tested once a week, and students or employees regularly commuting to campus to use facilities and services will also have the opportunity to be tested once a week. Details about where and when these free tests will be offered for students, faculty and staff during the spring semester is forthcoming. The Morgan Hall testing center will continue to test those with symptoms of COVID-19 and those who are designated as a close contact of a person who has tested positive. 

We will also soon be sharing information about testing for those who plan to leave campus for the fall semester on Friday, Nov. 20. Priority for these tests will be given to students living in on-campus housing and those taking in-person courses. Students living in on-campus housing will separately be receiving information about safely departing from residence halls. 

Contact tracing and containment measures
As part of our containment strategy, we have been continually expanding the capacity of our Contact Tracing Unit. Once someone is identified as having tested positive for COVID-19, they will be required to isolate, and close contacts will be required to quarantine for 14 days. We have designated isolation and quarantine space on campus for those living in residence halls or in off-campus housing. 

Maintaining healthy behaviors
Although our plans for the spring semester include expanded in-person instruction and increased COVID-19 testing, abiding by the four public health pillars—properly wearing a facial covering, washing your hands, maintaining six feet of physical distance and monitoring your health—remains the best way to protect yourself and others from contracting the virus. Testing is an important component of proceeding with a blended instructional model, but is not a preventive measure. Continued responsible behavior among our community is critical to a successful spring semester. 

As we make plans amid great uncertainty, we have developed contingency plans for the spring semester, should conditions change over time. We are prepared to deviate, if necessary, from outlined plans in order to take the actions needed to keep our community safe and healthy. 

Next steps
Over the next several weeks, additional information about on-campus housing and student services for the spring semester will be made available. As always, the latest information on our plans can be found at our COVID-19 website

We want to once again thank all Temple students for your dedication and commitment to your education. Your resilience is inspiring. And to the Temple faculty and staff, thank you for ensuring we remain true to Temple’s vital mission during these uncertain times. 


Richard M. Englert

JoAnne A. Epps
Executive Vice President and Provost