GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — East Carolina University’s campus was relatively quiet on Monday. That won’t be the case on Tuesday.
Spring classes start Tuesday morning. This is the first time students have been on campus since COVID-19 forced them away last September. Greenville-area business owners say they are excited to have the students back.
“I think it’s going to increase business for everybody across the board and just kind of bring a sense of normalcy back to us,” said Tandi Wilson, owner of Christy’s Euro Pub. “Driving through the Uptown District over the past couple of weeks, it’s been dead.”
Business owners have felt the effects of the students’ absence. Wilson said she’s already seeing an uptick in business ahead of Tuesday’s classes.
“When the semester actually ended before Thanksgiving, we saw a drastic drop in business and frankly, it stayed that way through the winter months,” Wilson said. “This weekend alone, it was one of our busiest weekends since October even.”
Wilson is also seeing signs people are taking COVID more seriously.
“Just from this weekend alone, I noticed that a lot of the students were wearing masks, which is great because we didn’t see that in the beginning,” Wilson said.
She said she is hopeful those safe practices will continue.
“I’m hoping that they’re taking it more seriously so they don’t get sent home,” Wilson said.
Wilson also hopes ECU administrators will take a different approach if COVID cases get out of control.
“Hopefully they won’t shut it down completely,” Wilson said. “Maybe the decision will be that it’s just a one or two week hiatus of face-to-face classes.”
Even if the students get sent home mid-semester, Wilson said she is hopeful students will be able to stay on campus for the full semester.
“The ones that signed leases that are in grid housing or in apartment housing, hopefully they’ll stay and continue to go out to businesses as long as they’re safe,” Wilson said.