Temple University updates mask guidelines as students return to campus

Temple University campus at North Broad Street in Philadelphia (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Temple University campus at North Broad Street in Philadelphia (Emma Lee/WHYY)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

Temple University students can no longer only wear cloth masks as they return to in-person classes on Monday.

Students had been learning virtually for the first three weeks of classes in the 2022 spring semester (Monday, Jan. 3, through Friday, Jan. 21).

The adjustment was due to the significant increase of COVID-19 cases around the country and throughout the region.

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The university says returning students can wear a surgical mask, a surgical mask with a cloth mask over it, or follow the CDC’s recommendations and wear a KN95 mask. But cloth masks by themselves are not allowed.

“The rules? They’re needed for COVID. Of course, everyone has to stay safe,” said freshman Brenden Tartaglin who says he’s happy to go to school in-person.

Debeh Willie, a junior, says she’s torn about being back on campus.

“One minute it seems to be going in the right direction, and then the next minute there’s a new variant,” she said.

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Willie adds if upgrading masks means continuity in her education, she’s okay with the policy.

“I don’t want us doing the back and forth, home, school, home, on campus, so if it’s going to be to keep us in one place, I don’t mind,” she said.

Some students, however, say that any type of medical mask is hard to find.

“They only had one box at Target yesterday, so I have it, but nobody else does,” said freshman Laura Walker.

Temple says it will have a limited number of KN95 masks to give out on campus at locations – including the Charles Library security desk, Bell Building, Howard Gittis Student Center Information Desk, and TECH Center Security Desk.

Students can swipe their OWLcards and be given one mask each.

In addition to the new masking rules, Temple is also requiring anyone who lives in its housing to get a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of return to campus, regardless of vaccination status.

Additionally, as Philadelphia has mandated proof of vaccine to eat in city establishments, Temple is carrying that requirement to eat in its dining halls.

If a student is not vaccinated, they will need a waiver to eat in Temple facilities.

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