Photos by Jeremy Elvas, Colleen Claggett, Allie Ippolito, Julia Larma and Nick Davis.
The 2020-21 academic year came at an unprecedented moment in Temple University’s history defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, drastic changes to student life and nationwide social and political change.
The Fall 2020 semester got off to a rocky start when the university welcomed students back to campus, only to reverse course two weeks later by moving nearly all instruction online.
In the following months, COVID-19 cases continued to ravage the United States, claiming the lives of more than 569,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the country continued to struggle to control the COVID-19 pandemic, life at Temple carried on, as students, faculty and administrators did their best to adjust to the many changes brought on by the last year.
In early September 2020, the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, sparked protests across the country, including in Philadelphia, where many Temple students joined thousands of other protesters to demand justice for Blake and other victims of police brutality.
Into 2021, the country continued to see widespread social and political change in addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The murder trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd gripped the country, and rising rates of racially motivated violence against Asian Americans spurred widespread outcry and protests across the nation.
The country also saw a divisive presidential race, which culminated in the election of Joe Biden on Nov. 7, 2020. Following the announcement, many Temple students joined thousands of other Philadelphians to celebrate the historic moment in the streets of Center City Philadelphia.
The national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine began in December 2020, sparking hope that the end of the pandemic could be in sight. As of April 26, more than 735,000 Philadelphians are partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and nearly 488,000 are fully vaccinated.
The death of beloved Temple basketball coach John Chaney on Jan. 29 resulted in an outpouring of condolences and messages of appreciation for a figure who defined an era in Temple’s history.
There were also physical changes to the surrounding community, as long-standing businesses like the Draught Horse Pub & Grill located at Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street closed their doors on Feb. 21 after 20 years of serving the Temple community.
This spring, the university offered a limited number of in-person classes and bolstered its COVID-19 testing efforts while continuing to require social distancing measures on campus and limited in-person gatherings.
Temple announced on March 1 that classes for the Fall 2021 semester would be held mostly in person, which was a relief to students who were fatigued from nearly a year of mostly virtual learning.
As Temple students and faculty approach the coming fall semester with cautious optimism, the true impact of the past year remains uncertain.
Despite the hardships faced over the past year, hope remains that the Temple community will emerge from this difficult time with more resilience in the years to come.