For rising senior Devon Burke, an online Fall 2020 semester is not a reality she wants to face, but she feels it is likely.
“If they do it, it will be in the interest of public health and that is definitely very important to me,” said Burke, a junior community development major.
After the second half of the spring semester moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students speculate that Fall 2020 might also be online, depending on the continued severity of the outbreak.
The university announced that they’re considering different plans for reopening campus in Fall 2020, like smaller class sizes, limited gathering sizes and continuing online learning, The Temple News reported. Other Philadelphia universities, like the University of Pennsylvania, are considering a hybrid model of in-class and virtual learning, while others like Thomas Jefferson University announced they plan to hold in-person classes in the fall.
“I’m not getting my hopes up for an in-person fall semester,” Burke said. “It’ll be my senior year, I really want to make the most out of my senior year. For me, that really would be connecting with the people in my classes and my professors.”
The smaller class sizes at Temple’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture make Burke feel part of a community, she said. She also leads TU Queer Bible Study and is a member of the Temple University Community Development Club. For her, the organization feels about community and in-person connection, Burke said.
While she hopes for an in-person semester, she wouldn’t feel comfortable on campus given how easily the virus can spread.
“I’d probably wear a mask and be scared all the time and wash my hands a lot,” Burke said.
Fellow rising senior Michael Monaco-Vavrik, a double major in geography and urban studies and environmental studies, said he would also be disappointed if the fall semester was online.
As the music director of the Jewkebox acapella group and a Diamond Peer Teacher for the Digital Mapping course in the Geography and Urban Studies department, Monaco-Vavrik would prefer an in-person semester but is not expecting it.
“I’ve definitely thought about, ‘Is it worth going back that semester if things are online?’” he said.
Despite circumstances, Monaco-Vavrik wants to be able to reconnect with the members of his acapella group in person in the fall.
“Due to the nature of acapella, we would not be able to continue that electronically. We would lose another concert,” he said. “We already had to cancel another concert this semester.”
Monaco-Vavrik added that with the amount of students Temple has, bringing them all back to campus would likely increase the risk for them and professors alike.
“Unless the highest precautions were made, it would be a hotbed of potential pathogens spreading,” he said.
Sydney Badman, a freshman global studies major, was frustrated with the move to online classes.
Between Badman’s participation in Greek life and her on-campus job as an Owl Ambassador, where she gives campus tours to prospective Temple students, it has been hard to remain connected without the physical campus community.
“I hate it. I can’t stand it. It’s really hard to interact with peers,” she said. “Since I’m very extroverted, it’s really hard to engage.”
Regardless of whether or not the fall semester includes an online component, Badman said she was still planning to live in her off-campus apartment.
At the same time, Badman said she would not be happy if the fall semester was entirely online.
“I would probably take a semester off in that case,” she said. “I would rather take a semester off than do classes online.”
Temple plans to let students know their decision about Fall 2020 by the end of the month, President Richard Englert announced this week.
Like Badman, Burke plans on living in Philadelphia no matter what happens in the fall, even though she is from Annapolis, Maryland.
“I would definitely stay here, I do not foresee moving,” she said. “I have a really good apartment and feeling of home here.”