Thanksgiving travel guidance

Dear Temple students, 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. is surging. Case counts nationwide continue to rise significantly and hospitals across the country are reaching capacity. This is a challenging scenario to face as we prepare for Thanksgiving—traditionally a time to gather and celebrate. 

Given the circumstances, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday released guidance that urges people to avoid traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, celebrating in your home, with the people you live with, is the best way to reduce your chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 to others, including those you care about. 

The CDC’s guidance, in addition to requirements for travelers issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, prompted us to revise the university’s expectations for students for the remainder of the fall semester. We are in the midst of a serious public health crisis. The choices we make and the behaviors we engage in as individuals over the next few weeks will determine just how painful the months ahead will be. Let’s make the right choices. 

Our ask now is simple: If you’re leaving the Philadelphia area, stay at your destination through the end of winter break.

If you have no other choice but to return to campus or Philadelphia before Jan. 19, you are expected to comply with city and state requirements for travelers, which include the following. 

  • If you are traveling out of state, you must obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to your return to Pennsylvania. 
  • If you plan to return to campus, you must upload your negative test result to Temple’s student health portal
  • You must quarantine until you receive a negative test result. 
  • If you are unable to get a test, the Pennsylvania Department of Health requires you to quarantine for 14 days when you return to the state and before coming to campus. 
  • Clinical students in our health science programs may be subject to additional requirements before returning to their placements. 

Failure to follow these protocols could be a violation of the Student Conduct Code and could result in revocation of building access or other sanctions. Let me be clear—these are not recommendations, they are requirements of the commonwealth. 

For students who may be planning to return to Philadelphia during winter break, it’s important for you to know that only symptomatic and close contact testing will be available on campus beginning Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, until we return for the spring semester in January 2021. During this period, the university will only provide tests for those with COVID-19 symptoms, those identified by contact tracers as close contacts of a positive case and students whose approved clinical work requires a test. 

As I’ve said before, being tested for COVID-19 is not a preventive measure. The best way to prevent yourself, your loved ones and others who come in contact with you from contracting the virus is to continue to practice important health precautions—what we refer to as the four public health pillars. If you cannot commit to these behaviors—wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping six feet of physical distance and monitoring your health—you must stay home for the health and safety of others.

I know many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue and desire a bit of normalcy this Thanksgiving, but we must remain vigilant. Our lives and those of our friends, neighbors and loved ones, depend on it. Taking individual steps to ensure the health and safety of yourself and others will lead to the collective resilience of our Temple community. 


Mark Denys 
Senior Director, Health Services