One year ago today, Temple University’s domestic campuses began online learning, which continued through the end of the semester, according to an announcement from President Richard Englert.
Just days before, Philadelphia declared its first case of COVID-19 on March 10, 2020.
The next day, Temple announced all domestic campuses would end in-person instruction on March 13, 2020 — the same day the World Health Organization officially categorized COVID-19 as a global pandemic.
Gov. Tom Wolf began implementing statewide closures of all nonessential businesses to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic on March 16, 2020. This meant in addition to no longer physically being on campus, Temple students, along with Philadelphia and Pennsylvania residents, saw their hometowns and city streets closed.
COVID-19 almost instantly changed the lives of Temple students in March 2020. The Temple News asked nine students what they were doing on their last day before schools closed, businesses closed or they began practicing social distancing to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s what Temple students remember:
Freshman business management major
Terwilliger was on a bus heading home from a school soccer game on March 12, 2020 when she received a notification that her high school, West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia, would close for at least two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“That day at school, my history teacher was like, ‘Oh, you guys are going to get out of school,’ and I swear to God it was a joke,” she said.
Freshman neuroscience major
Wallace’s high school closed on March 13, 2020, two days after the global pandemic was declared. Wallace said her friends were excited because they didn’t have to turn in a school project but were also unsure what was happening because her teachers were emotional during the school day.
“All the teachers were crying, which we thought was so weird,” Wallace added. “We were like, ‘We’re all going to come back, what is happening?’ And then I remember me and my friends had a club meeting and then after that we just hung out and had a party because we joked it was like the end of the world and just like, celebrating school was going to be gone for two weeks.”
Senior accounting and management information systems major
Shin spent one of his last ‘normal’ days in East Falls outside of Thomas Jefferson University with his friends.
“Me and a couple friends just played a couple rounds of beach volleyball and we just hung out,” Shin said.
Junior marketing major
Novakis spent her last ‘normal’ day moving out of her room in 1940 Residence Hall after students were asked to leave housing by March 21, 2020 when campus operations closed for the Spring 2020 semester. Afterward, she and her sister went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings.
“It was right after I packed up my dorm and we came back from Temple, and it was really sad, and everyone was rushing to leave, and it was so hectic,” said Novakis, a junior marketing major. “I feel like that was the last time we ate out and it was, just looking back, you know, it’s kind of like, nostalgic.”
Freshman advertising major
Giunta was in the senior lounge at her high school, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, spending time with her friends listening to music and taking photos together.
“Some people were taking pictures and some of us were like, ‘Why would we need to take pictures? We’re going to be back in like a week,’ and then we never came back,’’ Giunta said.
Freshman legal studies major
Salerno celebrated his 18th birthday on March 15, 2020, with close friends and family eating pizza and cake and playing basketball and Cards Against Humanity, before the state closed nonessential businesses on March 16, 2020.
“It was a lot of fun, you know, it felt normal then,” he said. “Ever since then being that close to that amount of people is very tricky even with the masks and social distancing.”
Senior public relations major
Harris attended her last in-person meeting for PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s student-run public relations firm, on March 12, 2020, where she was slated to take over as the firm director, she said.
“It was a very somber but exciting thing because we were like, ‘Oh, we’ll be back in two weeks, but later, like Jordan will be in charge,’ and it’s just been a whole year of being virtual and it’s been really challenging,” she said.
Sophomore nursing major
Clark spent her last seemingly normal day lounging on the beach in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
“The last normal day I would say was just going to the beach and just being outside before I flew back to Philly,” she said.
Senior communication studies major
Resurreccion and her friends threw a party on March 13, 2020. The following day, she and her friends went to one of their houses to hang out, and spent her day playing music and spending time together, she said.
“It was the last time I saw all of my friends that I saw like every single weekend up until that point, and it was just really, really nice being able to be around everyone, and it was a nice last hurrah,” Resurreccion added.