As fears concerning the spread of coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, may continue to rise around Greenville, East Carolina University officials hope to keep the campus safe and will take precautions to slow the spread of the virus.
In a Facebook live broadcast on March 18, Chris Stansbury, associate vice chancellor and senior operating officer for ECU, announced that as of March 25, all residence halls on campus will be closed in accordance with the Center for Disease Control. However, students with special circumstances will be allowed to remain after completing an application.
Currently, any discussion about refunds for students for time not spent living in the dorms due to the evacuation have been suspended until further notice, according to ECU News Services.
Bill Koch, associate vice chancellor of campus safety and auxiliary services, said in an email statement that the information surrounding the spread of the virus is ever changing, and that students need to check ECU’s coronavirus updates page regularly for information.
“This centralized process is the best way for us to clearly and consistently communicate to campus on such a critical issue,” Koch said through an emailed statement.
The preparations that have been taken by the university are constantly being enhanced in order to continue to slow the spread, according to Koch. Some of the most recent measures being taken in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 include evacuating the dorms and making graduation an online event.
Lynn Roeder, associate vice chancellor and dean of students, said that with the situation surrounding the virus constantly changing, it’s difficult for the university to maneuver and give concrete responses.
“We are trying to do our due diligence, but it’s changing, like where we were last Thursday to where we are now is very different,” Roeder said.
Roeder said that unfortunately, it is likely that either a faculty member, a staff member of a student will end up contracting the virus at some point.
The university’s main goal is to limit the amount of contact that will happen between people on campus, according to Roeder. She said this has been done through the closure of certain on-campus facilities.
“The rec center is closed, that’s an area where it’s highly risky because of perspiration and things like that. No matter how much you clean machinery there’s still a good chance that someone could contract the virus,” Roeder said.
Roeder urged students to stay away from campus for the time being, and to follow the recommendations made by the government on how to operate during the outbreak.
Trying to promote the idea of social isolation and preventing the gathering of groups is essential to stopping the spread of coronavirus, Roeder said.
“We are kinda in drastic measures, as far as this country goes, something that none of us have ever seen before, at least recently,” Roeder said.
In an email sent out to all students, ECU Facilities announced that as of March 19, Joyner Library, the Main Campus Student Center are closed and all transit services are postponed until further notice. Other services, such as the Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD) have moved to entirely over-the-phone operations.
Roeder and officials at ECU, such as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy, are constantly talking about how to effectively tackle the issue and maintain a solid communications stream with the students.
“Vice Chancellor Hardy has a meeting every morning on the books for about six of us to go in there and kind of talk through what the next steps are, and it’s a fluid process, like we think we have it one way and something else changes,” Roeder said.
Roder said that it is difficult for anyone to give definitive answers to questions due to the rapidly changing situation surrounding the virus. However, she said there are decisions being made daily that have the utmost care for the campus community, faculty staff and students.
Even the staff has begun to make changes to their daily lives in order to curtail the spread of the virus, such as having all of their meetings remotely so as to not gather in a group, according to Roeder.
Updates concerning COVID-19 and how ECU is fighting against the spread can be found at ECU’s News Services Coronavirus update page.