ECU administrators prepare for safe spring semester as students return next week


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The message was pretty clear.

“We’re going to need every Pirate to step up and participate in what we’re doing. This is an all hands on deck, and that’s what it is going to take to do it safely,” said ECU Police Capt. Chris Sutton.

East Carolina University is preparing for what’s hoped to be a safe spring semester. The goal is to hold an in-person commencement in May. Officials said it’s up to students to follow the school’s COVID-19 guidelines.

“We will be enforcing our rules, policies, protocols and policies as well as those from the Governor (Roy Cooper). We hope the students will do the right thing but if not we will help them to do so,” said ECU Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Virginia Hardy.

Experts said not many employees caught the virus in the fall. They found no evidence COVID was transmitted among workers on campus. Administrators found COVID spread quickly and easily among students who took part in social gatherings.

Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said that can’t happen again this spring, and he’s hopeful it won’t.

“I think we are much closer to a culture of compliance than we were in August, and that culture does impose indirect constraints on individual behavior,” said Mitchelson.

School leaders said restrictions aren’t the only part of the solution. Increasing COVID testing is critical, too.

“We are going to have more surveillance testing available for our students on campus,” said Director of Student Health Services Dr. LaNika Wright. “Part of the culture we are trying to build is a culture of testing. Not being tested just because you’re sick, because you may have the virus and not have symptoms.”

Classes get underway on Jan. 19. Students will begin their move-in later this week.

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