After finishing her senior year of high school learning virtually, Jocelyn Hockaday was excited to move into White Hall to begin her freshman year.
“I was stuck doing online classes for my last years of high school,” said Hockaday, a freshman journalism major. “I really just wanted to be able to experience the part of college that is living in a dorm and finding friends and actually having a professor talk to me.”
Hockaday is one of many Temple University freshmen who began moving into residence halls from Aug.16 through Aug. 20 for the fall 2021 semester, during which the university will offer primarily in-person classes for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. Students were excited about the opportunity to enjoy a more traditional college experience after many spent the past year learning virtually.
Returning students also moved into on-campus housing on Aug. 21 and 22, according to the university’s website.
Last fall, Temple initially offered a mix of in-person and online classes, but transitioned to primarily virtual instruction after two weeks due to a spike of COVID-19 cases among students and faculty, The Temple News reported. Many students who were living on campus chose to return home and have their housing and meal plan deposits refunded, The Temple News reported.
Sasha Westrick, a resident at 1300 Residence Hall, is worried Temple will shift to primarily virtual instruction again this fall if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“I’m definitely worried about moving back to online because I want a normal freshman year,” said Westrick, a freshman biochemistry and finance double major.
The two-week average of new COVID-19 cases reported each day in Philadelphia rose from 25 new cases on July 2 to 180 new cases on Aug. 8, according to the City of Philadelphia Health Department’s testing data.
“You see a lot of other schools just shut down and everyone goes home,” Westrick said. “Having the end of high school be like that, and then also the start of college, it wouldn’t be fun.”
Other students like Austin Ziegler are more than ready to move into on-campus housing at Hardwick Hall after living at home and attending virtual classes last year, he said.
“I can’t really function well just sitting at my house and doing schoolwork all day,” said Ziegler, a freshman architecture major. “I wanted to have that college experience, like living in the dorm and actually going to each building for classes and everything like that.”
In accordance with the City of Philadelphia’s COVID-19 guidelines, Temple is requiring all students, faculty and staff to wear masks indoors and in enclosed spaces and be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, The Temple News reported.
Students in on-campus housing must wear masks in communal spaces inside residence halls and provide proof they are fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, or they may lose access to university premises like residence halls, according to an announcement from Olan Garrett, interim associate vice president of the Division of Student Affairs.
These mandates relieved Michael Judge’s anxiety about moving into Morgan Hall North and living on campus this year, he said.
“Now that I know that everyone who is on campus is going to be vaccinated and we are required to wear masks indoors, it relieves some of that anxiety,” said Judge, an undeclared freshman.
To limit the number of people in residence halls, Temple required students to sign up for a 20-minute move-in block and only permitted two family members or friends to assist them.
Jonathan Aber felt his move-in process went well, even with the university’s guidelines, he said.
“I moved in early, and it was super smooth,” said Aber, an undeclared freshman who moved into 1940 Residence Hall on Aug. 16. “There wasn’t many people there. Really easy to get into my dorm and figure out where everything is.”
After moving in, students spent their time catching up with their roommates, exploring the city and attending Temple’s Weeks of Welcome events. For Dean Bruce, a freshman secondary education major living in 1300 Residence Hall, the highlight of his time at Temple so far has been meeting other students on his floor.
“Just getting to know people on my floor was really nice because I’m in [Temple Honors] and it was really cool to meet a bunch of people who are all sort of like doing the same thing,” Bruce said.