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Temple moves most classes online for fall after COVID-19 cases spike

The Associated Press
FILE — This May 23, 2019 file photo shows Temple University in Philadelphia. Amid rising numbers of positive coronavirus cases, Temple University announced Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020,  that the majority of classes will shift to online through the end of the semester.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PHILADELPHIA — Amid rising numbers of positive coronavirus cases, Temple University announced Thursday that the majority of classes will shift online through the end of the fall semester.

In an emailed statement attributed to the university's president and provost, the university said they had tried in-person classes because students had overwhelmingly expressed a preference to come back to campus. But after talking to officials at the city Health Department, the university's leadership decided to shift about 95% of classes online.

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Students living on campus can opt to leave by Sept. 13 and the university will refund charges for housing and meal plans. But officials said students will be allowed to stay and services such as health services will remain in place.

"We know this is disappointing for the many students and their families who had hoped for an on-campus experience. Please know that if the data supported a decision to safely continue the fall semester experience on campus, we would have made every effort to do so," the statement said. "Unfortunately, the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are simply too great for our students, faculty, staff and neighboring community."

The cases at Temple have been the cause of a recent uptick in positive cases recorded in Philadelphia. The city has worked with the university's health services department to identify the students who have tested positive and conduct contact tracing. 

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said many of the students testing positive live in off-campus housing and could present a threat for community spread. Earlier this week he urged those students to act as if everyone they are in contact with is infected. Farley said they should self quarantine and only leave their apartments for essential needs for now.