Temple University is increasing its in-person class offerings for the Spring 2022 semester due to high vaccination rates among students and employees; however, class sizes will not increase and students will still be required to wear masks, said Jodi Levine-Laufgraben, vice provost for academic affairs, assessment and institutional research.
The increase in in-person classes means it will be more difficult for students to register for online-only classes, said Mark Denys, director of Student Health Services.
“Maybe you were in person on Tuesday, remote on a Thursday,” Levine-Laugraben said. “Now those classes could be fully in person.”
Students who wish to schedule exclusively online classes should discuss their academic plans with their academic advisor, Levine-Laufgraben said.
Temple decided to maintain current class size capacities for spring in-person courses because each room is prepared with furniture for a smaller number of students, Levine-Laufgraben said.
”When the schools and colleges and the departments built their spring offerings they knew the full array of classrooms and capacities available to them,” Levine-Laufgraben said.
The City of Philadelphia lifted its social distancing guidelines in June. Rather than lifting distancing requirements for the Fall 2021 semester, Temple waited to follow the city’s guidelines until the Spring 2022 semester because most students had already registered for fall classes when the city announced its new guidelines, making class alterations difficult, Levine-Laufgraben said.
Some students cited high vaccination rates in the university community as a proper reason for the university to use more of its classrooms.
“I feel as if it is normal and as it should be to go back to normal,” said Nuno Abecasis, a philosophy graduate student. “If you are all vaccinated and being safe, then it is a reasonable thing.”
Although Temple had six-feet distancing guidelines for the Fall 2021 semester, the university loosened the enforcement of these guidelines after the city lifted its own distancing requirements.
With the increase of in-person classes, there is a higher risk for disease transmission, said Graciela Jaschek, an epidemiology and biostatistics professor.
“As an institution, you’re putting people in danger by pulling them back in person,” Jaschek said. “But with making vaccines necessary you can at least help to control the safety of a classroom.”
As of Dec. 10, more than 97 percent of all Temple students and employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the university’s vaccine dashboard.
Temple has maintained a fairly low and consistent COVID-19 case rate since the Fall 2021 semester began, making the increase of in-person classes less worrisome, Jaschek said.
This week, Temple has reported a 2.40 percent positivity rate compared to Philadelphia’s positivity rate of 4.4 percent, according to the university’s vaccine and case dashboard.
“Regardless of class location, we should continue masking up,” Jaschek said. “It’s hard to predict what will happen because we don’t know if there will be a new variant popping up.”