Madeline McGuire feels like she never left high school.
“I was still getting used to things, but it definitely felt like I had been there longer than two weeks,” said McGuire, a freshman undeclared student. “I had gotten used to my routine there.”
McGuire is among the more than 60 percent of students who were living in university residence halls at the beginning of the semester to move out after Temple University announced on Sept. 3 it would move most of its classes online. After leaving, students are finding it difficult to recreate the classroom experience and feel connected to Temple from home.
The announcement suspended most in-person classes for the remainder of the fall semester in response to reporting 212 active COVID-19 cases among students. Students were given until Sept. 13 to decide whether they would remain on campus or move back home and receive full refunds for housing and meal plans.
A total of over 3,400 students moved into residence halls at the beginning of the fall semester, wrote Olan Garrett, director of residential life at University Housing and Residential Life, in an email to The Temple News. Prior to Sept. 3, more than 150 students left on campus housing. Between Sept. 3 and Sept. 13, around 2,000 moved out, Garrett wrote.
McGuire lived in 1300 Residence Hall before returning to Baltimore, Maryland, with her parents. She’s struggling to concentrate on online classes at home and feels behind, she said.
“One thing that has helped is that people in different Zooms made group chats to keep up with the work and that was really helpful,” McGuire added. “If I can talk to somebody else, then I’m not like completely alone, you know what I mean?”
Lindsay Hartman, a freshman undeclared student, lived in the 1940 Residence Hall but moved back home to Collegeville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11 so she could be refunded.
Hartman was upset leaving campus, but most of her friends moved home. She feels alone at home because her friends from there have not returned from their universities, she said.
Taking college classes at home is difficult because her sister is taking high school courses online and her dad works from home, Hartman said.
“It’s just been so hectic around here and like it’s just hard to focus because everyone’s always on a call, or like the WiFi just shuts down because there’s so many devices connected at the same time,” she added. “It’s just been kind of tough.”
Winton Petty, a freshman psychology major, decided he would return to Minneapolis, Minnesota, when he received the announcement about classes moving online.
He made the decision on his own because it made the most sense to opt for the housing and dining refund, he said.
“Packing was kind of crazy but you know it was also emotional too,” Petty added. “It was just really sad that this had to happen. It was really unfortunate.”
Iasia Caraballo, a junior media studies and production major, moved into her grandmother’s house in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and got tested for COVID-19 before moving out of Temple Towers on Sept. 13.
“Ultimately it came down to the decision of what’s going to save me money and what’s going to make me happy,” Carabello said.
After taking online classes in the spring, Carabello didn’t have difficulty adjusting to her course schedule, but is missing visiting the studio for her Audio for Media class.
“We were learning how to use audio mixers and learning how to use real professional audio equipment,” she added. “Now, I don’t have the opportunity to use any of that stuff because I don’t have any of that stuff on my own and that’s not stuff Temple can provide.”
McGuire finds it hard to feel connected to Temple when she is at home, she said.
“I definitely did miss it, I remember I would be walking around to go to the dining hall or the library and looking at all these buildings and I was like, ‘Wow they are really pretty. I wish I could go inside,’” she said.
After missing her high school’s senior class trip, school sports and graduation, Hartman is upset to be missing her freshman year of college in the residence halls, she said.
“It’s harder to make connections with your professor and like meet with people who are in your classes and try to get help,” Hartman added. “Then again, finally kind of getting to like hang out with a couple people where you know where they’ve been so you can trust them to not give you [COVID-19], and then you finally make a little group and then we all left.”