‘It wasn’t just an empty ghost town’: ECU students, faculty reflect on first full semester back on campus

School Watch

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Monday was the last day of classes for East Carolina University students.

This is the first time students were able to be on campus for a full semester since the coronavirus pandemic began. Both students and ECU faculty are breathing a sigh of relief.

“I honestly was scared that my first year of college wasn’t going to be in person,” said ECU freshman Gracie Sweeney.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. ECU students are officially done with classes.

“We just got to get through this week of exams and then we’ll get to enjoy the holidays,” said ECU freshman Alex Stevens.

Having students on campus for the entire semester was a welcomed sight to many people.

“It was just nice to see everyone and it wasn’t just an empty ghost town of a campus,” said senior Michael Johnson.

While students finish up their classes, they do have something on their minds: the omicron variant.

“There’s always that little fear in the back of your mind,” said Sweeney.

ECU officials say right now, there’s no need to worry.

“We were able to get through delta, so we’re anticipating that based on the information we have right now, omicron should allow us to continue those plans moving forward,” said ECU Associate Dean of Students Lauren Thorn

Thorn said there are several protocols put in place that helped students stay on campus this semester.

“Surveillance testing certainly made a huge difference,” she said. “Obviously having the capability and space for our quarantine and isolation students on campus. Of course, availability of vaccines.”

These are all restrictions ECU leaders are carrying into the spring. But there is something they want the community to prepare for.

“There’s probably going to be a little bit of a spike,” said Thorn. “But it’s gonna be all right. We’ll push through it and I’m really looking forward to having a successful spring semester.”

ECU leaders said there’s a possibility they will remove the campus mask mandate at some point. That will all depend on case numbers.

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