Temple delays start of semester, cancels spring break due to COVID-19 concerns

Temple University campus

Flags wave in the wind from a building on Temple University's campus in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

This article originally appeared on NBC10.

Temple University is delaying the start of its spring semester and canceling spring break as it deals with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Executive Vice President and Provost JoAnne Epps told undergraduate and graduate students in a letter Monday that the 2021 semester won’t start until Jan. 19 – eight days later than the original plan.

“This will give students who leave campus for the winter break at least two full weeks after New Year’s Day to self-quarantine, either at home or in off-campus housing, before the start of spring classes,” Epps wrote. “The Philadelphia Department of Public Health strongly recommends students self-quarantine before returning to the city for classes.”

The delay allows the possibility for students to take online winter courses, something Temple calls “an additional benefit to the delayed start.”

“This will allow students to either accelerate their academic progress or lighten their academic loads at some future time and still stay on course for graduation,” Epps wrote.

Spring break being canceled could help to keep any COVID-19 exposure down, Temple said.

“Last year’s experience taught us that travel during spring break led to multiple positive cases among students, both nationwide and abroad,” the letter said. “This decision is an additional way of keeping our community healthy and safe.”

Temple suspended most of its in-person classes earlier in the fall semester after a surge in cases among the student body. Hundreds of students tested positive for COVID-19 at that time.

The university is urging students to continue to follow its “four public health pillars: monitor your health, wear a mask, wash your hands and keep a physical distance.”

“I know it can be fatiguing at times, but as we head toward colder weather and spending more time indoors, these pillars are vital to maintaining a healthy community,” Epps said.

Coronavirus cases have been surging again in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia recently. Other universities and colleges could follow suit and change spring semester plans, if they haven’t already.

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