Spring 2021 return: What you need to know

Dear Temple students, 

We hope your winter break is off to a safe and healthy start. And though we know your break has just begun, we want to share with you some details about the protocols and procedures that will guide your return in January and through the duration of the semester. Be sure to check your Temple email often over break for additional information. 

Winter break behavior
The current winter surge of the virus puts us in a different position than when we returned to campus in August, and we must respond accordingly. We urge you to act with extreme caution over winter break, especially in the two weeks leading up to your return to campus. As we have learned, this is sadly not the time for holiday parties or New Year’s gatherings. The nationwide circumstances call for vigilance in protecting yourself, your family and, by extension, the Temple community. 

We know this has been a challenging year, but we can’t let up now. The four public health pillars—wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping six feet of physical distance and monitoring your health—are the best ways to prevent yourself, your loved ones and others from contracting the virus. This is true now, and will remain necessary for the foreseeable future. 

As we prepare for the spring amid uncertainty, the university continues to monitor guidance from the city and state. Should circumstances change over time, we are prepared to deviate from our plans in order to keep our community safe and healthy. 

Students returning from outside of Pennsylvania
Regardless of whether you plan to live on or off campus, if you are returning to campus from outside of Pennsylvania for the spring semester you are required to comply with Philadelphia and Pennsylvania requirements for travelers. This includes obtaining a negative test result 72 hours before your return or quarantining for 10 days upon your return

Pennsylvania-based students
If you are a Pennsylvania resident who did not leave the state over winter break, but plan to move into off-campus housing at the start of the semester, you are required to quarantine for 10 days prior to the start of classes on Tuesday, Jan. 19. 

On-campus residents
Students living in on-campus housing are required to take a COVID-19 test before their arrival to campus. The cost of the test and shipping charges will be covered by Temple, and this test will satisfy the state requirement for students returning from out of state. Check your Temple email account for instructions on how to order a test to be delivered to your current residence. You’ll also receive information about how to access your results and submit them to Student Health Services. If you test positive before your planned return, you’ll be required to start the semester virtually while you isolate at home

New surveillance testing
As previously announced, the university is instituting an expanded testing program for the spring semester. Students will be assigned a COVID-19 testing group for the semester, which determines the number of times per week and location of your tests. More details are forthcoming, but the basics of the plan are outlined below. 

Mandatory testing twice weekly

  • Residents in on-campus housing
  • Students taking in-person courses that meet two or more times per week
  • Students who live in the surrounding six ZIP codes (19121, 19122, 19123, 19130, 19132, and 19133) who are taking in-person courses that meet at least one time per week. In order to maintain access to university buildings on campus, students must update their living address in TUportal.

Mandatory testing once weekly 

  • Students living outside of the six ZIP code range who take in-person courses at least once per week

Optional testing once weekly 

  • Students residing off campus in the six ZIP code range surrounding Temple and enrolled in a fully remote course load
  • Students regularly coming to campus only to use facilities and services

Students assigned to clinical rotations

  • Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Kornberg School of Dentistry, School of Pharmacy, School of Podiatric Medicine and the College of Public Health will provide information on required testing to students in clinical rotations.

Not tested

  • Students engaging in virtual learning and using only online resources. These students will only be tested if they are symptomatic or identified as a close contact.

For most students, testing will be conducted at one of three sites on Main Campus: Mitten Hall, the Student Center and the Paley Building. There will also be testing sites at the Ambler Campus, Health Sciences Center and the School of Podiatric Medicine. 

Symptomatic and close contact testing
Just like the fall semester, the testing center at Morgan Hall on Main Campus will remain available for testing those who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been identified by contact tracers as a close contact of someone who tested positive. 

COVID-19 compliance
We want to make this expectation understood as early as possible: Students must comply with all university protocols and city regulations for the duration of the spring semester. At Temple, this includes obeying protocols for testing, contact tracing, and quarantining and isolating; limitations on social gatherings; and restrictions on guests in university housing. We have every confidence that Temple students will continue to rise to the occasion and make us proud while keeping each other safe. 

COVID-19 vaccines
The light at the end of the tunnel has started to peek through with the approval and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, the first doses were recently given to front-line workers at Temple University Hospital and to the university’s Health Services staff. We must balance our optimism, however, with the reality that we’ll still be living with the virus for some time, until the vaccine is widely available. We look forward to eventually returning to normal. Until then, please join us in doing all you can to stay safe and healthy. 

Wishing you a restful winter break.


Mark Denys 
Senior Director, Health Services 

Stephanie Ives
Dean of Students