To the Temple community:
It seems hard to believe that nearly a year has passed since COVID-19 changed our lives. While there have been milestones to recognize, the fact is the past 11 months have not been easy for any of us. I know we are all growing weary of the restrictions to our lives. The good news is that I believe this fall will be a turning point for everyone at Temple University.
I wanted you to know that we are planning for a fall semester that is primarily in person with a substantial number of students returning to campus. We are building a fall schedule with a broad range of in-person classes and many faculty and staff members on site to support our students. We hope to return to a vibrant campus experience, with our residence halls, dining halls, student center and academic buildings, as well as our athletic and recreational facilities, open this fall. Yes, the pandemic will still be with us, and some classes and activities will be online, but there are reasons to be hopeful. Vaccine production will be ramping up over the next several weeks and distribution kinks are being ironed out. Temple is working with the city of Philadelphia on vaccine plans, and we hope the university will become a point of distribution for both the Temple community and local residents in the near future. More information on this initiative will be sent out as the plans progress.
Looking back, I continue to be amazed by the transformation we have undergone. While no one wanted to leave campus, we can take comfort in knowing that Temple has done all it can to ensure that classes continue, students are making progress toward graduation, and the safety of our community has been assured.
If there’s any lesson we’ve learned from COVID-19, it’s that the virus can be unpredictable. We will continue to be subject to city, state and federal guidelines and restrictions, as well as general public health guidance. While we are optimistic, we can’t predict the course of the virus and may need to adapt as circumstances warrant.
We continue to make great strides in adapting to living and learning with the virus. The COVID-19 testing lab at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine is providing us with quick results and we have already done 50,000 tests this semester. I am pleased to say that our aggressive testing program has proven to be a success: Temple’s positivity rates are well below 1%. Congratulations to everyone who was involved in creating and implementing this new process. I want to also thank the vast majority of students who have followed our four public health pillars and participated with the testing protocols. You are not only keeping yourselves safe, you are lowering the risks for faculty, staff, your fellow students and members of the North Philadelphia community. Thank you, and please keep up the good work as the weather breaks.
We will share additional information on the fall as our plans come together. Until then, please continue to follow our four pillars to keep you and everyone in the Temple community safe.
As always, thank you for all you do on behalf of Temple.
Richard M. Englert