One year ago today, Temple University entered a new chapter in its history by pivoting to online classes as COVID-19 spread across the country. That same day, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a statewide closure of all nonessential businesses.
The devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are apparent in our everyday life: lack of social contact, widespread unemployment and the loss of more than 530,000 American lives. At the same time, the largest social movement in United States history called for racial justice in response to police officers killing Black civilians like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Walter Wallace Jr. and countless others.
Today’s issue, Movers & Shakers 2021, is an homage to the essential workers and leaders who’ve helped carry the Temple community through this tumultuous, painful and challenging last year — and who are helping shape what we’ll look like on the other side of it.
Maintenance workers stayed on Main Campus to install safety materials and barriers when students and faculty moved home. Testing staff implemented and oversaw new protocol to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the Temple community.
Other staff and advisers created new initiatives for the university following the Black Lives Matter movement and the search for a new Temple president. Faculty advocated for students experiencing food and housing insecurity. At the same time, frontline workers at Temple Health and in surrounding neighborhoods responded to and cared for our communal public health during this rapidly changing, dangerous pandemic.
Beyond being essential as workers, these individuals continue to be integral for the Temple community’s safety, future and development on and off campus. The pandemic’s recovery may be in sight, but it is still far from the end. The Editorial Board calls on Temple students, faculty and staff to continue following COVID-19 protocols to protect these individuals who are working to keep them safe.
While close to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S., COVID-19 cases at Temple have risen in recent weeks. On March 12, Temple reported 152 active cases of COVID-19 among students and faculty, nearing its semester-high 159 cases on Jan. 28.
The Editorial Board reminds Temple students and faculty to continue practicing COVID-19 health protocols, like wearing a mask and social distancing, even as we enter our second year in the pandemic. We ask our readers to avoid large gatherings and parties, wear masks while around others and limit travel when possible. We also encourage readers to schedule vaccination appointments if they are eligible to do so.
We understand that this has been an exhausting year, but we must remain vigilant to ensure the safety of our friends, classmates and neighbors. Taking precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is one way to show respect for the movers and shakers who made this hybrid semester possible.
Our priority is still protecting the health and safety of our community, and that starts with practicing proper COVID-19 health protocol.