Temple’s Hope Center releases recommendations for universities amid COVID-19

Temple University has implemented several policies in line with the recommendations.

Cherry Pantry will now distribute "grab and go" grocery bags of food and essentials instead of using its previous point system. | KATHY CHAN / FILE PHOTO

Temple’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, a research center focused on higher education, released a series of recommendations for colleges to address students’ basic needs this week as universities vacate their campuses amid the spread of COVID-19.

A report authored by Sara Goldrick-Rab, the founding director of the center, advises colleges to center students and their needs for food, healthcare, housing, emergency aid and instruction during the pandemic, communicate what steps they are taking and explain what resources are available.

“Students are humans first,” Goldrick-Rab wrote. “The more a student feels connected to and understood by their college or university, the more likely they are to stay enrolled and engaged.”

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus which was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It causes respiratory illnesses. The disease has since spread to dozens of countries, and on March 11, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of coronavirus a pandemic.

Among the Hope Center’s recommendations are informing students if they are eligible for Medicaid, following CDC guidelines for distribution of food from food pantries, deploying an emergency aid fund for students in need, providing counseling to help students find alternative housing and loaning laptops to students who may not have them.

Christine Baker-Smith, the managing director and director of research of the Hope Center, said students right now are expressing concern about “what’s coming next” — paying rent in a few months, being able to go to work or accessing the internet for their classes.

“Everybody right now is not just trying to figure how to be educated or to educate, but also how to care for themselves and their family in a time of uncertainty,” Baker-Smith said. 

The Hope Center also released enrollment management and financial aid best practices during the pandemic and guidelines for how universities can take care of students who have experienced homelessness or foster care

Since Temple announced classes would move online on March 11, the university has done the following to support students, wrote Ray Betzner, a spokesperson for the university, in an email to The Temple News:

  • Provided laptops to every student who requested one to work from home.
  • Moved the Cherry Pantry to the Temple Police substation near Morgan Hall South. The pantry will be open twice a week and provide a “grab-and-go” bag of groceries to students, The Temple News reported.
  • Committed to refunding the costs of housing, meal plans, and parking.
  • Surveyed all students in Temple housing and made arrangements to house those who have no place to go.
  • Asked alumni and friends of the university to help support the Student Emergency Aid Fund. Temple’s FAST Fund, another emergency aid fund administered by Temple Association of University Professionals, has been strapped for cash helping students during the pandemic but is expecting more money to be added soon, wrote Steve Newman, the president of the union, in an email to The Temple News.
  • Set up ways to continue counseling.

“I would say these examples show how Temple has shown its compassion in ensuring the ongoing needs of our students, whether they’re here in Philly or at home,” Betzner wrote.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 include a high fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that symptoms can be mild or severe and appear 2-14 days after being exposed to the disease.
What to do if you are sick?
Stay home, avoid public areas and avoid public transportation if you feel sick. You should isolate yourself from people as much as possible and limit contact with pets and animals. You should call your doctor and schedule an apointment before visiting a doctor’s office, urgent care, etc. You or your doctor should alert a health department of your illness.
If you are sick, you should wear a facemask around other people. Cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water.

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