Colin O’Donnell is worried if he leaves Main Campus to return home to Pittsburgh, he could infect people like his friends, his niece and his mom, who has autoimmune complications and is at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19, he said.
“It’s them that I worry about, because I know they wouldn’t be able to bounce back as easily as me,” said O’Donnell, a freshman accounting major.
On Sept. 3, Temple University suspended non-essential in-person classes for the remainder of the fall semester after reporting an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among students, The Temple News reported. Students living in residence halls are permitted to stay, but if they choose to move out prior to Sept. 13, they will receive a full refund for housing and meal plans.
The announcement gives students less than two weeks to decide if they will leave Main Campus. While classes remain online, students ponder the potential health risks of staying in residence halls or returning home.
At the time of Temple’s announcement, the university reported 212 cases of COVID-19 among students. Today, Temple has reported 318 cases, including a university employee case.
On Sept. 2, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said students should move back to where they stayed over the summer to help reduce the density in neighborhoods surrounding Main Campus, The Temple News reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advised students against moving home to avoid further spreading COVID-19, 6ABC reported.
Jeremy Criden, who is from Georgia, is planning to stay in 1940 Residence Hall. If cases at Temple spike again, or if he or one of his friends gets sick, he might decide to go home, he said.
“It’s a big decision for me, since I’m not just like an hour away or anything, so it’d have to be a whole moving process and everything,” Criden, a freshman media studies and production major said. “So I think it’d just be easier for me to stay here and I want to stay here. It just all depends on everything over the next few weeks.”
Chloe Kunzelman and Alicia Lanides are roommates in 1300 Residence Hall. The two are trying to find an apartment off campus since they do not want to move home, and it would be cheaper than staying in the residence hall, said Lanides, a freshman communication studies major.
“It’s a valuable part of the college experience to be able to be here and hang out with your roommates,” Lanides said. “Obviously, now we can’t hang out with a lot of people but we might not even be able to hang out with our roommates now really stinks.”
Kunzelman, an undeclared freshman, said students in 1300 are stressed weighing their options, especially if friends are moving out.
“They were asking, ‘What’s happening? When are you guys leaving?’,” she added. “It was just kind of sad to see everyone that you could have been friends with if it was under normal circumstances, like everyones leaving.”
This year, 3,700 students moved into on campus housing, compared to 5,398 in 2019, The Temple News reported.
Heather Niemoeller, a freshman music therapy major, said she is planning to stay in 1300 rather than move home to Landenberg, Pennsylvania.
“My parents left it up to me, I know some of my friends, their parents are making them come home,” Niemoeller said. “I just like it better here.”
To move back home to North Carolina, Imani Muhammad is trying to coordinate the best day to move out of White Hall with her parents.
Muhammad, a freshman psychology major, lives in a suite-style dorm with Nicolette Biscardi and Bella Bentivogli, who are both freshman biology majors. It didn’t surprise her that classes went online, but it happened sooner than she expected, Bentivogli said.
“I kind of expected this when I moved into campus,” Biscardi added. “It’s like that’s what came with the pandemic. I don’t know if I’m going home yet or not, but we’ll see.”
Matthew Donnellan has a seventeen-hour drive ahead of him when he moves home to Kansas City, Missouri.
“It’s kind of a bummer, just driving up here like a week ago or so and now having to drive back in a week,” said Donnellan, a freshman environmental science major.
O’Donnell said he wants to stay in Morgan Hall South so he can try to get as much of the in-person ‘college experience’ as possible.
“I’m still going to be able to interact with my RAs, there’s still going to be some people on the floors,” O’Donnell said. “I’m going to try and squeeze as much of it out as I can.”
He added the residence halls feel hectic.
“Everybodys just asking questions that are going unanswered and everybody’s kind of just freaking out just like trying to go about their classes,” he added. “But at the same time, they’re just like, ‘What am I going to do? What am I personally going to decide what to do?’ You can like feel the energy when you walk in.”