Philadelphia-area students have renewed concerns about COVID-19 on campus

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As students return to campus across the Philadelphia area, there's renewed concern that in-person classes may eventually shut down after UNC-Chapel Hill abruptly went all virtual due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

"It definitely has crossed my mind that there is a possibility of being sent home, but hopefully everybody is able to stay safe and responsible so that we're able to stay on campus until November," said Fallon Bergeron, a first-year student at Saint Joseph's University.

As universities implement their health plans, Ray Betzner, assistant vice president of University Communications at Temple University said they are prepared to battle outbreaks because they are expecting positive cases.

The university cleared out two residence halls in case students need to quarantine.

"One of the issues at UNC is they quickly ran out of housing for their students who tested positive," said Betzner. "We don't have that issue. We have several hundred rooms that are available for students."

But some COVID-19 measures aren't sitting well with students. Off-campus Vantage and The View Student Apartments implemented a zero guest policy, even threatening to call the police if violated.

A petition circulated online has nearly 1,000 signatures, asking for the apartment complex to change its policies. Next week, tenants will be allowed to bring in one guest.

"If they were so concerned with COVID they would have put the guest policy a long time ago," said Annabelle Alvarez, creator of the petition. "They just put this in last week. During the peak of COVID in Philadelphia, they were allowing guests in so I don't think this has anything to do with COVID.

"This is a private building. There's no affiliation with Temple University and I feel like our rights as tenants are being taken away," said Temple rising junior Niccolas Auf.

City of Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the city is working closely with Philadelphia colleges and universities and feel college campuses have plenty of opportunities to set standards for safety practices.

"Limiting the spread does not mean there won't be any cases," said Farley. "We expect there will be cases in college communities as there are cases in the city as a whole. Our goal is to really prevent the propagation of those."

In a statement From Vantage and The View at Montgomery Management:

In the interest of the health, safety and well-being of all residents and staff of The View and Vantage and the entire Temple community and further, in order to keep building density at a minimum during our "touchless move-in" days between August 15th and August 23rd, The View and Vantage management have requested that residents adhere to a temporary modified guest guideline. This request also considers state and local density guidelines for COVID-19 safety and CDC recommendations for safe social distancing. We apologize if this temporary request inconveniences particular students as we have also received numerous messages of appreciation from residents and families in response to this guideline, especially those who are high-risk. The View at Montgomery and Vantage housing communities serve a combined total of 1816 residents and our goal is to keep our community safe at all times, especially now during move-in days. Curbing the spread of this virus requires all of us to work together.

Farley said if COVID cases get out of control, the city will consider shutting down college campuses.
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