Boxes of shampoo on the sidewalk. Pairs of shoes left behind in dormitory halls. Security guards and police officers standing outside residence halls as students frenziedly unite with parents in pickup and moving trucks.
Temple University students living in university housing, along with their friends and families, are being forced to pack up, pick up and leave Main Campus — eight weeks early.
Students pushed orange laundry carts filled with their belongings to their cars, hugged their friends goodbye, as they headed home for the remainder of the semester.
The unforeseen campus move-out comes after the university announced on March 11 it would transition to online classes beginning March 16 over concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak. The announcement included that students living in university housing had to vacate by March 21 and recommended students living off campus return home, The Temple News reported.
There are 45 cases of COVID-19 statewide and none on Temple’s campus as of Saturday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The decision for Temple to move to online classes and evacuate on-campus residences came hours after several other Philadelphia and Pennsylvania universities did, The Temple News reported. Other schools, like the University of Pennsylvania, only gave their students four days to move out, compared to Temple’s 10-day notice.
Anna Williams, a freshman psychology major, moved out of 1300 Residence Hall Saturday morning.
“I don’t want to leave,” she said while loading up a car with her things. “It’s hard because all my friends are here and just packing up and leaving is pretty hard.”
Williams said she wished students knew about Temple’s switch to online classes and shutting down residence halls sooner.
“I was just like on edge all week,” she added. “It didn’t feel real, so I couldn’t really focus on my schoolwork or anything, and even for this weekend, it’ll be hard to get things done with unpacking the whole year of my life and still doing homework.”
Trisha Pimenta, a freshman health professions major, said 1940 Residence Hall was the first place she lived away from home in Montgomery Township, New Jersey. When she found out she had to leave, she was upset and started scrambling for boxes to pack right away, she said.
“I really loved my roommates, the dorm, and the people on my floor, so I’m really going to miss them,” Pimenta added.
Pimenta’s mom, Auria Dsouza, a teacher at Montgomery Township School District in New Jersey, said coming to get her daughter Saturday morning was easy because her school district had also closed schools.
She still would’ve preferred if the university would have made the decision to send students home over spring break because of students who traveled internationally during it, like her family did, Dsouza said.
“If they had called it off then, it would have been better,” she added.
Students and those helping move out have about 30-45 minutes to park in no-parking zones outside residence halls, like Morgan Hall and 1300, to load up cars, said Temple Police Lt. Ken McGuire Saturday morning.
“We’re trying to make the move-out as orderly as we can,” he said. “This is unprecedented really. I’ve been here for 34 years. I’ve never seen this happen before.”
Temple Police expects Saturday through Monday to be the busiest move-out days, and he doesn’t expect any problems, McGuire added.
Nancy Ng, 58 and a parent, is from Randolph, New Jersey. She moved her daughter Amanda Ng, a sophomore nursing major, out of 1300 Residence Hall today.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, but like I said it’s the right thing to do to contain it,” Nancy Ng said.
She hopes the switch to online learning will be smooth, she added.
She is glad to have her daughter home because it’s safer, “of course I’d rather her be here to where she’s learning in better circumstances,” she said.
After students leave university residence halls on March 21, the university will start issuing refunds for the cost of housing from the day they move out to the end of the semester, The Temple News reported. Temple hasn’t made a decision about meal plans yet.
Lyric Fritsch, a sophomore music education major, called her mom immediately after the university’s March 11 announcement to coordinate a plan to move home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania from The Edge Student Village on Saturday morning.
“Not everybody can just drop everything and run,” Fritsch said.
Because she lives in off-campus housing, Fritsch’s family isn’t sure if they will get a refund on housing and is still expecting to have to continue to pay for rent when she moves home, she added.
“It’s good for on campus students, we’re still trying to figure out how it’s going to work for off campus,” said Chiquita Williams, her mom.
Some families who have multiple students in school are being forced to move more than one student home in short amounts of time, too.
Nolan Washbourn, a sophomore advertising major, who moved out of Temple Towers residence hall today, has sisters at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, he said. All of them will be returning home to Hillsborough Township, New Jersey.
“We’re all going to be streaming classes at the same time,” Washbourn added.
Izabella Vera, a freshman pharmaceutical science major, is furthest from home among her sisters, she said. Her mother woke up at 6 a.m. on Saturday to drive to Philadelphia from Malborough, Massachusetts to move her.
Vera is unsure how the transition to online classes will impact her, but said her family expected it. Yet, it’s still a sudden change, she said.
“It hasn’t really hit,” Vera added.