Brylonde Baylis-Shepard spent the last two weeks of classes acting and performing from behind a computer screen. She is grateful to be back in person at Temple University to physically communicate and act with fellow classmates.
“On a screen, you don’t feel that energy, like that physical energy back and forth,” said Baylis-Shepard, a senior theater major.
After a surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant, Temple transitioned to virtual instruction for the first two weeks of the Spring 2022 semester. As in-person classes started on Jan. 24, students were excited to be back on campus and felt safe attending classes with both the mask and vaccine mandates in place.
Temple students and employees are required to wear KN95 masks, surgical masks with cloth masks over them or surgical masks with multiple layers of nonwoven materials when inside campus buildings, according to a Jan. 21 announcement from Gregory Mandel, senior vice president and provost. Students are not permitted to wear only cloth masks.
After spending her first three semesters at Temple taking solely virtual classes from her dorm in 1300 Residence Hall and apartment in Kardon Atlantic, Rosaleen Wink was excited to walk into the Tyler School of Art and Architecture today and use mold-making materials for her work during class, she said.
“There’s an experience in person that you just can’t get online,” said Wink, a sophomore undeclared major.
She is looking forward to getting to know the people in her classes and having hands-on experience with her art projects.
“They’re doing the mask, the COVID testing, it’s what we can do because there are a lot of students walking around,” Baylis-Shepard said. “They’re trying at least and I appreciate that.”
Although he didn’t have to wake up early for his commute on the Media/Elwyn Regional Rail line for virtual classes, Mohammed Bappe is glad to be on campus this semester.
“If you’re always doing work at home, it’s hard to separate that work-life balance,” said Bappe, a first-year basic core health sciences major.
Bappe enjoys being able to get all of his work done while taking classes on campus so he can relax when he gets home, he said.
Knowing people are vaccinated and wearing masks made Bappe feel safe going to his two in-person classes, Physics II and Biology II, today, he said.
As of Jan. 24, there are 190 active COVID cases among students, faculty and staff, and 96
percent are fully vaccinated, according to the university’s vaccine and case dashboard.
Temple required all students and employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 15, 2021, unless they were granted medical or religious exemptions.
Now that classes are in person, Bappe is looking forward to getting to know his classmates and hopes that classes stay in person, he said.
Virtual learning was difficult for Linh Vo, a senior advertising major, because she got distracted and used her phone during class instead of paying attention. Now that classes are in person, it’s easier for her to concentrate, she said.
Temple’s COVID-19 precautions, like the new mask guidelines, help Vo feel safe attending in-person classes and she hopes the spring semester remains in person, she said.
“I don’t want my last year here to be online,” she said.
Jore Bagdonas, a freshman biology major, felt strange walking into the classroom today because it was almost like starting the first day of the semester all over again, she said.
Being in person made it easier for her to focus and ask questions, because her biology lectures are large and professors missed questions in the Zoom chat, Bagdonas said.
“Everyone can use the chat but it’s a lot easier to ask, for me, in person and talk to professors,” she said.
She is a little nervous about being in person because of COVID-19, but the benefits, like studying in the library, outweigh the risks, she added.
Baylis-Shepard is looking forward to her last semester on campus and hopes things will remain in person for the entire semester.
“They’re trying to give us that college experience,” Baylis-Shepard said.
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