PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Temple University is pausing in-person classes because of a dramatic doubling of COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The university and Philadelphia Health Department conducted hundreds of tests Monday and are advising students to take precautions.
This has been happening to universities across the country. They open and there’s a spike in coronavirus cases, forcing a shutdown.
Temple University announced Sunday it will temporarily stop in-person classes and Monday there were 400 appointments for tests. But they were bombarded with an unexpected number of students who showed up worried about being infected.
There was a long line of students at Temple University in North Philadelphia waiting for COVID-19 testing after the university paused in-person classes because of a spike in cases, doubling from 50 on Friday to 100 by Sunday.
“We are doing large-scale testing of those students who have been close contacts and those students who’ve called and said I’m not feeling well,” said Temple representative Ray Betzner.
Twenty-five percent of Temple’s students — about 9,000 — chose in-person classes. The hybrid model allowed for both on-campus or remote learning.
The fall semester was only a week old when the coronavirus cases on campus spiked.
“We were both a little surprised to see the numbers jump so much but what are you going to do? It’s college,” freshman Kylie Hier.
“It’s bound to happen that cases go up. It’s a big school, it happens,” freshman Taylor Woolford said.
Contact tracing indicates the students who tested positive live in dorms and off-campus housing. The outbreak does not appear to be related to large parties.
“There is some reason to believe that smaller social gatherings, six to eight people, getting together, pizza, beer, watch a game, for example, may be where this uptick in cases is coming from,” Betzner said.
Students who test positive are being advised to self-isolate for two weeks.
The Philadelphia Health Department is providing additional on-campus testing and helping with contact tracing.
“Some cases have reported that they may have attended classes when they were ill and so we prioritize the students that we know were close contacts to those cases,” Dr. Angelico Razon said.
Temple University is now switching to all remote learning for at least two weeks.
“I’m okay with it, it keeps everybody safe. You gotta do what you gotta do,” freshman Manbeer Grewal said.
Health officials are warning students to avoid social gatherings with people outside of their household and to wear masks.
As of Sunday, the university had tested more than 5,000 students and 103 were positive.
They’ll be testing throughout the week and are expecting to get results within 48 hours.
The health department says they hope to have a better understanding of the outbreak and its local impact within the next few days.