With Temple University modifying and suspending most in-person operations for the fall semester after Nov. 20, the university is offering a limited number of free COVID-19 nasal swab tests at Mitten Hall to students who are leaving campus for fall break.
Departure testing at Mitten Hall began Monday and will continue until Friday, Nov. 20, The Temple News reported.
“The fact that there’s rapid testing available for students is really great,” said Quinn Litsinger, a junior political science major and Student Body President, who got tested on Monday morning. “I think it’s good that the university is making sure that students are being responsible when they get home to have a safe break.”
Students will receive same day results by email. If they test positive, Student Health Services will direct them to the Morgan Hall testing center for further testing, The Temple News reported.
The first day of testing coincided with new restrictions from the City of Philadelphia on gatherings, including a prohibition on indoor dining and indoor gatherings with different households and restrictions on outdoor dining, retail stores and religious institutions, The Temple News reported.
Philadelphia averaged 721 new COVID-19 cases per day last week, the highest weekly average since the pandemic began, The Temple News reported.
Temple reported 49 active cases of COVID-19 among students and faculty on Monday, The Temple News reported.
“Being tested for COVID-19 is not a preventive measure,” wrote Mark Denys, director of Student Health Services, in an email to Temple students on Nov. 9. “A negative test prior to Thanksgiving does not guarantee that you will not have COVID-19 on Thanksgiving.”
Students can sign up for a COVID-19 departure test on the Student Health Services portal the same way they would for a test at the Morgan Hall testing center.
Daniel de Castro, a junior industrial and systems engineering major who got tested on Monday, wanted to get tested after Halloween and the celebration following the presidential election on Nov. 6. He is glad Temple created a testing site that is convenient, he said.
“Early in the semester, I couldn’t get a test here unless I, like, tested positive and jumped through all these random hoops,” he said. “But they seem to be handling it better now, which is nice to see.”
Students can also find testing options through Temple’s Student Health Services on Broad Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue, or near Main Campus at myDoc Urgent Care on Broad Street near Wallace, Project HOME on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 22nd Street and Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Health Center 5 on 20th Street near Berks, The Temple News reported.
Students who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and completed an isolation period should not get tested again, Denys wrote.
Student Health Services will continue to test students for COVID-19 at the Morgan Hall testing center and Student Health Services building during fall and winter break, wrote Ray Betzner, a spokesperson for the university, in an email to The Temple News on Nov. 13.
Meagan Mendoza, a senior biology major, got tested at Mitten Hall because she is very worried about returning home to her mother who has leukemia and is at risk for COVID-19, she said.
“I know everybody else seemed to be partying, but I’m trying my best to just stay and be with my roommates,” she said. “So I’m pretty confident that I’m negative, but you never know with everything that’s going on. So I just wanted to be cautious.”
The university recommends students quarantine for two weeks before leaving Main Campus and practice the four public health pillars while they are home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to their families, Denys wrote.
“We want your return home to be a happy one that allows you to hug your loved ones and enjoy low-risk activities with them,” Denys wrote. “I know this will take some effort and sacrifice, but your health and the health of your family is worth it.”
Additionally, students who return to campus after Thanksgiving for the end of the semester should quarantine upon their return, Denys wrote.
Ari Gewirtzman, a sophomore gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, got tested before visiting their partner for Thanksgiving, they said.
“I definitely wouldn’t be doing it without being able to get a test, and I wouldn’t be able to do it if he didn’t get a test,” they said. “I feel better because I know that both of our roommates are either going to be away or quarantining safely.”