‘We learned a lot of lessons last year’: ECU administrators prepare for a more normal semester after pandemic

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — University leaders across North Carolina are preparing for students’ return to campus.

East Carolina University’s first day of class is just one month away. Students won’t need a vaccine card to come back to campus, but they will need a mask. University officials are hoping this will be as close to a normal school year as possible. They said they’re counting on students to help make that happen.

“We learned a lot of lessons last year,” said ECU Associate Dean of Students Lauren Thorn. “We put a lot of work into place and so we’re very hopeful, but it really will take everyone being a part of the process to make it a successful fall semester.”

Campus is quiet now, but in a few short weeks, students will move into their dorms and prepare for a new year.

“That really brings a lot of movement and life back to campus,” said Thorn.

Many are excited to be back in the classroom, even if they have to wear their masks.

“That’s where I’m stronger,” said Giuliana Roccisano, a junior at ECU. “I think we’ll see a huge improvement in just general campus mental health and grades.”

Some students are a little nervous.

“I’m vaccinated, but I’m scared as soon as we get back on campus, cases are going to rise because we’re all together again,” said Tiara Winstead, an ECU senior.

Residence halls will go back to double occupancy. Non-vaccinated students will be required to take a COVID test once they move in. ECU will also perform random surveillance testing throughout the semester for those living on and off campus who are unvaccinated.

Students hope these protocols will be enough, but some fear they’ll see a repeat of last year.

“We all came back, didn’t really care,” said Roccisano. “Everybody went out and still mingled and then it spread and we had to go back online.”

That’s why they’re encouraging their fellow students to take the proper precautions.

“Mask up,” said Roccisano. Care about other people and their health and try to help as many people as you can because everyone is struggling.”

ECU administration said they’re hopeful these protocols won’t be in place the entire semester. They’ll continue to evaluate and adjust as needed.

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