Here’s how several Temple offices went remote amid COVID-19

Non-essential offices on campus, like Student Activities and the Wellness Resource Center, are now hosting programming virtually.

Sara Wilson, assistant director of outreach and communications at Temple Libraries, sits working on her laptop at her home in South Philadelphia. COURTESY / SARA WILSON

After the Temple moved online on March 15, Charles Library remained open. But then just four days later, on a short notice, the library also had to close its doors.

“Our transition when the library decided to close was pretty kind of sudden, we didn’t have a lot of notice,” said Sara Wilson, the library outreach and communications administrator. “So we’ve been focusing across our organization, on trying to figure out how to take the things we had in place for the spring and try to figure out what we can offer virtually.”

Librarians and other Temple staff have been working remotely after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced on March 16 that all businesses except those deemed essential — like grocery stores and pharmacies — were to close due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many university offices are trying to find ways to move their work online and still engage with students.

The library worked with vendors to give students and faculty complimentary access to a wider variety of research databases, like Med One Plastic Surgery and Loeb Classical Library, and eBooks, journals and periodicals until June 30, Wilson said.

“We knew that the need for library resources and access to information wasn’t going to stop just because our buildings are no longer open,” she said. “Students are still taking classes, faculty are still doing research and faculty are still having to teach those classes. … There was never an option that we would stop the services.”

Librarians are still offering students consultations on Zoom, a video conferencing platform, and have created research guides on how to use online resources. Their staff is also creating website information pages to give students and faculty access to all of the different online resources they have, Wilson added.

Due to the closure, the library has no way of accepting fines on late books, so all existing ones have been waived, according to its website. Once the library reopens, students will be able to return books. 

While all of the library’s public programs have been postponed, librarians have moved some of its workshops, like “What Citation Manager is Right for You?” and “Research Data Manager Essentials,” to Zoom, Wilson said.

Librarians have received positive feedback during the move to online through increased online resource use or social media engagement, Wilson said.

“We know people are using online resources,” she added. “So, I do think people are still thinking about the library and are happy that we’re able to offer online resources.”


The Wellness Resource Center met with its staff the week classes went online to find ways to continue its mental health, sexual health and alcohol and drug education programming amid the pandemic, said Liz Zadnik, WRC’s associate director.

“We also had a lot of conversations about how we approach our content in a way that is really thoughtful and, and speaks to what folks may be going through right now,” Zadnik added.

WRC has hosted 30-minute skill-building workshops around self-care, new routines and mindfulness via Zoom.

While students themselves are balancing a lot with the move to online, Zadnik is grateful for their feedback, she said.

“They’ve offered us incredibly positive feedback about offering more events and repeating sessions, which was really affirming to us and they have been saying like, ‘This shows us that you still care about us,’ which we absolutely do, I mean, students are our purpose,” Zadnik added.

WRC has also partnered with several student organizations, like Feminist Alliance and Temple Student Government to plan for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. They’ll host events, like Denim Day and an Activism Roundtable, on Zoom to create a community that addresses sexual assault, Zadnik said.

Sara Wilson, assistant director of outreach and communications at Temple Libraries, sits in her backyard working on her laptop at her home in South Philadelphia. COURTESY / SARA WILSON


The New Student and Family Programs Office partnered with WRC and Tuttleman Counseling Services to provide parents resources, like newsletters, for how to support their students during this time, said Elizabeth Harris, the office’s parent and family coordinator.

Recently, NSFP held a Zoom meeting with the Temple Family Council, a group of 20 volunteer family members, to discuss COVID-19 and provide a space for family members to feel supported and engaged, Harris said.

Owl Team Leader courses, which teach students how to lead new student orientation, are running online. To keep the team active, NSFP also created Coffee Chats where every Tuesday at 2 p.m., professional staff and leaders get together on Zoom to stay in touch with students, Harris added.

“Our favorite part of our job is connecting with our students, and we miss them,” she said. “We want to provide a space for them to continue to connect with us and to continue to get to know them on a more personal level.”


Student Activities is working on moving their events to a virtual platform. On April 8, it hosted Painting with a Twist on Zoom, and on April 10 a Fortnite Gaming Tournament, said Chris Carey, senior associate dean of students.

There’s also a Virtual Survival Guide, a collaborative website with different departments throughout the university, like WRC and Klein College, where they post upcoming activities and links to join various sessions.

“It’s something for whoever needs to be there or wants to be there, and we’re excited for that but, you know, we’re not necessarily measuring the success based on the number of participants though,” he added. “Of course, we want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy these things.”


The Office of Leadership Development is hoping to release the LeadLAB, a website with TEDTalks and podcasts, so students are able to learn more about leadership, Carey said.

Carey, who works with both Student Activities and OLD, understands that students are dealing with a lot of stress during this time, whether academically or personally, and wants to give students an outlet to help them feel a little more positive, he said.

“Our hope is that we can continue to help students feel connected to each other even though we’re all in different physical locations,” Carey added. “We want to feel connected to each other and to Temple as a whole, and really be a source of some sort of positivity and enjoyment for everybody.”

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