After leaving campus in September 2020 when Temple University moved courses online, Michael Castillo eagerly waited for months at his home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to return to Main Campus for the spring semester.
“I was waiting all Christmas break to come back and meet people,” said Castillo, a freshman health professions major. “I already have some people that I met before but I mean, I got a new floor now and a new roommate.”
Students moved back into residence halls this weekend, after they closed on Nov. 21, 2020, prior to Thanksgiving. Freshmen moving in are looking forward to meeting new people and taking classes on campus as they hope following university COVID-19 guidelines will keep them safe in the residence halls.
An estimated 1,660 students moved into Main Campus residence halls this weekend for the Spring 2021 semester, said Ray Betzner, a spokesperson for the university.
Those who were moving to campus for the first time were given move-in time slots on Jan. 16, while returning students moved back into their residence halls on Jan. 17, according to University Housing and Residence Life.
During the Fall 2020 semester, 3,200 students initially moved into on campus housing, Betzner said.
When almost all courses moved to an online format on Sept. 3, 2020 after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among students, students were given a full housing and dining refund if they moved out. The number of students living in residence halls then decreased to 1,200, Betzner said.
In the last seven days, there has been a daily average of 613 new cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. As of Jan. 15, there are currently 49 cases of COVID-19 among Temple students and employees, The Temple News reported.
Students will continue to primarily live in Morgan Hall, Temple Towers and 1300 Residence Hall this spring, Betzner added. University Housing and Residence Life relocated students in the fall semester to residence halls on the south side of campus to keep track of students, ensure safety and establish feelings of community, The Temple News reported.
Students moving in had a COVID-19 test mailed to their home that was submitted the week before move-in, said Mark Denys, director of Student Health Services. Students are not allowed to move into the residences halls until Temple receives a negative result from them, he added.
If students tested positive, their move-in date was delayed. As students settle into campus, they will be tested beginning Monday or Tuesday, Denys said.
Castillo hopes he’ll be able to stay in his room on the 16th floor of Morgan Hall North for longer than three weeks. He doesn’t have any in-person classes this spring, but returned to campus because he feels he will focus better in classes while there, he said.
“Schooling at home is kind of hard just because I’m so distracted and I don’t feel like I want to do anything,” he added. “Now that I’m here, I feel like I should be doing better in school.”
Alex Miller started his freshman year in White Hall for the Fall 2020 semester, but was moved to Morgan Hall in September 2020, he said. Moving today was the third time he moved his belongings into a residence hall this academic year.
Miller, a freshman business management major, is living in a four-person suite with a friend he met during his first weeks in White Hall. While he doesn’t have in-person classes, Miller wanted to come back for the spring to live around his friends, he said.
“I just wanted to be here, be around people,” Miller added. “I wanted to have like, a freshman year experience and even with everything that was going on with COVID and everything, I feel like I got that.”
Callie Simerly, a freshman sociology major, left Main Campus in September 2020 and returned home when her classes moved online. She met her Spring 2021 roommate before leaving campus in the fall and they visited each other before moving in together for the spring semester, she said.
Despite spending her time at home in York, Pennsylvania, last semester, Simerly feels like she is finally back where she belongs because her hometown is “not very fun.”
“Being in the city feels like home,” she added. “It’s very comforting to be here.”
Simerly doesn’t have any in-person classes because she wanted to avoid worrying about them having to transition online, but she came back to campus to get the experience she missed out on in the fall, she said.
Cassandra Slade moved back into Morgan Hall today after remaining on campus for the Fall 2020 semester. Slade, a freshman undeclared student, decided to return because she felt safe with the group of friends she made and how cautious they were about following COVID-19 guidelines.
“The people I surround myself with are pretty responsible, so I knew that I would also be responsible,” Slade added. “Everyone was pretty much responsible for the most part, so I was like, ‘Why not come back?’”
She hopes campus will be a little more lively than in the fall with students coming to campus for in-person classes, she said.
“Entering college this year, it was a more nontraditional approach because of the pandemic,” Slade said. “Coming back this semester will give me more of like, the college feel.”