Students react to Temple’s plan for in-person fall classes

Some students worry about how their peers will follow guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks.

Students discuss their thoughts on the university's announcement of having both in-person and online classes for the Fall 2020 semester. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Morgan Caswell fears having nowhere to go in between classes.

Caswell, a senior physics major, commutes to Temple University’s Main Campus from her home near Frankford and Cottman Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia.

“I need someplace to go in between classes or, if some classes are going to be online, that if I have class back to back and one is in person and one is online, is I’m not going to have time to get home,” Caswell said. “It’s not a five-minute walk across Broad Street for me.”

On Tuesday, Temple announced its plans for students to return to campus for both in-person and online classes for the fall, The Temple News reported. 

The university will implement a five-phase reopening plan throughout the summer, so campus will be prepared for students to return in August, President Richard Englert wrote in an announcement on June 2. Students will be required to wear face coverings in campus buildings and practice social distancing and frequent hand washing. Temple is currently in phase one. 

Isabel Oberlender, a senior ceramics major, was glad the plan includes some classes to be in person. But she still does not have answers to how her ceramics studio classes will be held, she said. 

“In the ceramics studio, we recycle clay and I’m kind of worried about what we’re going to do with that because you know, that’s not super hygienic,” Oberlender said. “I really don’t know how our studio is going to function.”

Oberlender hopes the Tyler School of Art and Architecture will send out more explanations on how art studios will function so she can decide if she will take a gap year or not, she added. 

“If my classes are unable to happen, I’m going to have to take a gap,” Oberlender said. “Having online learning, at least for my degree, isn’t conducive to my degree. It just doesn’t work.”

The university’s plan did not address issues of what campus life is going to be like in the fall, said Darren Grosko, a senior sport and recreation management major.

Grosko is still paying for his off campus apartment on Berks near Marshall streets, even though he is currently living at his mom’s house near Reading, Pennsylvania. If classes have to transition completely online in the fall, he will be in the same situation, he said.

Temple can enforce social distancing rules and mask guidelines while on campus, but it could be difficult to do so off campus, Grosko added.

“How are they going to enforce somebody throwing a party in an off-campus apartment?” Grosko said. 

Bonnie Bless, a senior psychology major, is concerned about how strict attendance policies will be in class. Temple has felt strict with class attendance in the past, but she doesn’t want personal health concerns negatively affecting her grades, she said. 

“I don’t want to be penalized for not showing up to class because I don’t want to be in a classroom with a bunch of other people packed in like sardines,” Bless said. 

Temple should consider if reopening campus will benefit people “in the long run,” she added. If campus is reopened too soon, it could be dangerous for students and faculty, Bless said.

“As a student, we pay a lot of money to get an education and we want our teachers to be equipped and prepared to be able to teach us what we need to be taught in order to be able to go further in our lives,” Bless said.

Carly Sienko, a sophomore music education major, does not plan to go out often with the exception of her classes. She feels many other students may not follow the same strict rules to leave their house, she said. 

As a music education major, Sienko had to borrow instruments from the university to learn how to play, she said. 

“I had to take home 5 instruments from Temple and I just have to give them back next time I’m there,” she added. “It’s not too sanitary but like, I don’t know, I dont think that’s sanitary to begin with, sharing school instruments”

For Caswell, she’s concerned with how seriously her peers will take the COVID-19 pandemic once they are back on campus. Students attending parties or going on weekend trips can lead to repercussions on campus, she said. 

“You, who are asymptomatic, can show up to class with, you know, your classmate who has an autoimmune disorder or your professor who’s almost 70,” Caswell said. “I just see so many ways that this could go wrong.”

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