Temple students, faculty adjust to campus safety guidelines

New COVID-19 protocols leave students wondering if in-person classes and campus are safe.

Groups of people sit far apart on the lawns and benches around the Paley Building on Aug. 24. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Being on campus encourages Andrew Shaqfeh to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance to wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He felt this was shared by many other students as he was moving into his apartment at University Village, he said.

“I would say, at least 75 percent of people were wearing a mask, and the people that weren’t, were definitely social distancing,” said Shaqfeh, a senior media studies and production and advertising double major. “I felt comfortable with that. I’m sure there are people out there who wouldn’t be as comfortable, but I think what was going on was fair.” 

Temple University’s COVID-19 return plan allows students to return to campus for in-person classes this fall. The university implemented new health mandates, including calendar changes to the academic year and de-densifying classrooms and public spaces.

Students are required to wear masks indoors while on campus, The Temple News reported. Campus also has social distancing circles on grass areas to promote CDC public health guidance. 

In a June 2 announcement to the Temple community, President Richard Englert wrote students and staff must follow the University’s four public health pillars, which include the wearing of face coverings, frequent handwashing, social distancing and self-monitoring.

“When balancing the risks and the benefits, I think what [Temple] struck here is a really positive, valuable balance, and I’m happy with what they done,” Shaqfeh said.

Nick Kasander, a sophomore film and psychology double major, is confident in safely attending his own in-person classes. Kassader is happy with precautions Temple has taken, like the newly installed plexiglass shields at reception areas in Temple Towers, he said. 

“I feel pretty confident that if we do the right things and the right measures, that it could work, but it’s mostly, it’s up to us,” Kasander said. “I think that Temple students do have to take the initiation and really, you know, wash their hands, wear the masks and you know, as cheesy as it may sound, don’t give up.”

Jaskiran Kaur, an assistant chemistry professor and member of the Return Team for Temple’s chemistry department, is teaching in-person labs this semester. She has spent this summer working to ensure COVID-19 safety measures will be in place alongside standard lab safety procedures, she said.

“If the students follow what we’re asking them, I’ll feel comfortable,” Kaur said. “If I would not have felt comfortable, I would not have offered [in-person labs]. I truly believe as long as students follow the directions, we should be fine.”

Trying to enforce mask-wearing on campus and how many students are in campus buildings may be difficult to regulate, said Patrick Kennedy, a junior management information systems major. 

“I am concerned about everyone’s safety though,” Kennedy said. “I dont think it’s the best situation, there’s a lot of people outside. I don’t know what to do either. It’s a tough situation.”

Kate Kubiak, a sophomore civil engineering major, is excited to be back, but nervous because she has seen some students not wearing masks or following social distancing guidelines on campus, she said.

Kubiak added that she and her roommates make sure to keep their social circle small, only allowing close friends in their apartment at The View. 

“So far, we’ve only done take-out and we haven’t been outside really without masks on,” Kubiak said. “We only take off our masks in our house or in our small group of friends’ houses. Besides seeing our friends, we haven’t gotten within six feet of anyone really without a mask.”

Agnes Williams’ in-person class was split into two sections. Williams, a junior music history major with a trombone concentration, will attend in-person class meetings on Wednesdays, while other students will attend in-person meetings on Mondays.

Williams also has an in-person rehearsal on Tuesdays at the Temple Performing Arts Center. She doesn’t feel safe attending because she is not sure how many people are in her ensemble, she said. 

“[I’m] not sure what that’s going to look like especially since I’m in the back and we’re near other people who are on different instruments,” Williams added. “A little concerning, kind of wish that we weren’t open. But I will trust Boyer and see what they’re going to do for us.”

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