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Credit: Chase Sutton

Temple University has suspended in-person classes for two weeks after 103 students tested positive for COVID-19. 

In an announcement to the Temple community on Sunday, Temple President Richard Englert wrote that in-person classes will be held online from Monday, Aug. 31 until Friday, Sept. 11. Only classes designated as essential by the dean of a school or college will be held in-person. 

On Friday, Temple reported 58 active COVID-19 cases, but additional test results received over the weekend raised the total count, the announcement read. More than 5,000 tests have been conducted over the last two weeks.

Temple’s decision comes just one week after its fall semester began on Aug. 24. In the announcement, Englert wrote that small social gatherings happening off-campus appear to be a source of the increase in cases. 

“An assessment of the situation will be made during this period to determine the best course moving forward," Englert wrote in the announcement. "We are hopeful, of course, that we will be able to return to the full hybrid program in place at the start of the semester, but any such decision will be driven by the data and public health guidance available at the time."

Temple is also working with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to test and contact trace student cases to minimize spread, the announcement stated.

Temple students, faculty, and community members protested the school's reopening on Aug. 17, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Protestors said that Temple failed to consult the Philadelphia community on the health and safety concerns of bringing students back to campus during a pandemic. 

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has also revised its guidelines this weekend in light of social gatherings, PhillyVoice reported. The department now recommends that no more than 25 people should be present at indoor gatherings, and no more than 50 at outdoor gatherings. Events without face masks and social distancing should not occur at all, the department recommended.

Englert encouraged students to wear a face covering and avoid social gatherings, regardless of size. He wrote in the announcement that students should also cancel any travel plans for Labor Day weekend.

Both dining and residence halls will remain open and student support services will continue operations.

Other area colleges, including Penn, had moved classes online prior to the start of the school year. Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett announced in an email on Aug. 11 that students would not be permitted to return to on-campus housing and the vast majority of classes would be held online.

Drexel University President John Fry announced on Aug. 19 that Drexel would hold classes online for the fall and close on-campus housing.

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