East Carolina University released a plan entitled “Return of Pirate Nation” on June 22, which details how the university will operate in the fall to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
Virginia Hardy, the vice chancellor of student affairs, said classes that hold over 50 students will be moved either completely or partially online therefore the hallways in the buildings will be less full and allow for social distancing.
Hardy said it mostly comes down to students if social distancing and safety concerns are upheld throughout the school year.
“We are relying a lot on students and individuals to take some personal responsibility about maintaining that six foot distance,” Hardy said.
Students who refuse to wear face masks while in classrooms will be at the discretion of the teacher. Hardy believes other students will help enforce the face mask policy on campus by urging others to take the precautionary measure.
Hardy said wearing a face mask will become one of the university’s rules, and the violation of the rules could violate the student code of conduct and different sanctions may apply to students who continue to violate the rule.
“We really hope we don’t get there. We hope that students will just comply,” Hardy said.
Restrooms will be cleaned more frequently than in the past, according to Hardy. She said in classrooms, students will be asked to help with wiping desks down while staff will be responsible for high-touch areas like doorknobs or stairwells.
Hardy said masks will be required in all indoor spaces, and when outside on campus it depends on the judgement of the individual to decide if a mask is necessary or not. During a class change when there is a lot of movement and masks should be worn outside, according to Hardy.
“If I’m walking around campus right now, I probably wouldn’t wear (a mask), because I’m the only one walking around campus and there are one or two people but they’re not anywhere close to me,” Hardy said. “If you can’t social distance, then you should wear a mask while outside.”
Freshmen will still be required to live on-campus during the upcoming year, Hardy said. There is an exemption process that students may take so that they may not live in a residence hall and it can be found on the campus living website.
The Student Recreation Center (SRC) will be impacted in the fall by restrictions related to the coronavirus. Dana Lopez, the associate director for facilities and operation for Campus Recreation and Wellness, said the SRC currently has permission to reopen on July 27, but if the executive order is either pushed forward or backward, the gym will open on the new date.
Anyone who enters the Recreation Center will have their temperature checked and will be asked questions pertaining to symptoms associated with the coronavirus, Lopez said. She said fitness machines will also be moved in order to guarantee social distancing is maintained.
“Machines in the weight room and the cardio deck will be spaced out more than the six feet to allow for movement around those machines, and we’re going to be taking the majority of equipment from the weight room and moving that onto the basketball courts,” Lopez said.
The indoor basketball courts as well as the outdoor pool will be closed for the foreseeable future, according to Lopez. She said the basketball courts will provide space for machines while the outdoor pool will be closed due to its limited size.
Lopez said there is currently no concrete plan for how to keep the equipment clean, but the university housekeeping and student staff will help clean. She said there will also be disinfectant wipes available for students who want to wipe down their machinery.
Michael Tahaney, the musical theatre program coordinator, said there are currently no plans for live productions in the fall or spring, but the department will continue to plan events for the fall.
“A live production that gets streamed seems a real viable thing but obviously then the actors have to be safe to be tight and close together, so we hope that by spring the productions can be a little more standard theatre selections,” Tahaney said.
Currently, the theatre department plans to have only virtual productions during the fall semester. Tahaney said the dance department will continue to look into doing a filmed production that would still maintain social distancing.
University updates concerning the coronavirus can be found on the ECU coronavirus updates page.