ECU extends spring break, transitioning to online course delivery

Published: Mar. 11, 2020 at 4:56 PM EDT
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East Carolina University late Wednesday announced it is extending spring break.

Classes will resume March 23rd and the university will transition to an alternative course delivery, such as online, video, or email-based.

Students are being told not to return to Greenville if they are currently out of town. Those who have to return should be aware that many facilities, including dining and recreation, may be limited.

The university is also restricting gatherings with more than 100 people until further notice. This as all university-sponsored travel to gatherings of more than 100 people is suspended unless there is approval from the chancellor or provost.

ECU statement

For the past several weeks, ECU and the UNC System have closely monitored the increase in COVID-19 cases and have been working diligently to prepare for our university’s response. We are in consultation with public health officials to ensure the safety and health of our students, faculty and staff. In alignment with UNC System guidance, we are taking the following steps now to minimize health and safety risks to ECU students, faculty, staff and the larger community.

Today’s decision is intended to protect the community and slow the rate at which the virus is spreading, while maintaining the integrity of our academic offerings. At this time, no ECU community member has tested positive for COVID-19.

ECU will remain open and operational. However, we are taking the following proactive steps to protect the health of the entire ECU Community:

Spring break will be extended through Friday, March 20. Campus facilities and services will continue to operate on spring break hours.

Students who are currently out of town for spring break should NOT return to campus if at all possible. Students who need to return to campus to retrieve belongings, even briefly, must register with Student Affairs. Exceptions to this guidance may be requested via an online form for students who are currently on campus or who need to reside on campus to access sources and resources. Students who do remain in campus housing or in the Greenville area should be aware that access to many facilities and services – including dining and recreation – may be limited. In addition, most student activities and gatherings will be curtailed. Students will receive further guidance from the vice chancellor of Student Affairs.

Effective Monday, March 23, the university will transition to a system of alternative course delivery (for example, online, video, email-based or other forms of delivery). This transition is effective until further notice.

Students should monitor their student email account for additional communications.

For those courses which are unable to transition to an alternative course delivery, faculty will notify students regarding specific plans. We recognize that in some cases, in-person instruction is the only viable method of instruction. The goal is to minimize the gathering of large groups. Faculty will receive further guidance in a communication from the provost.

For employees: Beginning March 23, ECU will seek to maximize teleworking opportunities to the extent possible for employees whose physical presence is not deemed mandatory or essential with respect to university operations, including conducting classes. Supervisors should work with employees to comply with existing policies, being mindful of individual circumstances and university needs.

Effective immediately, ECU is restricted from hosting gatherings with expected attendance of 100 or more people taking place on or off campus until further notice. Events or meetings sponsored by student organizations are also included. This is for all events unless prior written authorization has been given by the chancellor or the provost. Check the university calendar or with event organizers to see if your event is still taking place.

All university-sponsored travel in North Carolina or outside the state to gatherings of 100 persons or more are suspended unless you have prior written authorization from the chancellor or the provost. This includes student organizations. The university is suspending until further notice all university-sponsored international travel.

The university has established a call center, 252-737-5100, with representatives from Student Affairs, Human Resources, Academic Affairs and other campus offices. It will be operational 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.

The university recommends students, faculty and staff adhere to CDC recommendations for self-quarantine when returning to campus:

Individuals who have traveled to CDC Level 3 and Level 2 countries, which as of March 11 include China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan, should self-quarantine for 14 days off-campus effective immediately.

As the coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the U.S., it is difficult for us to assess individual risks of COVID-19 for those who have traveled domestically. We recommend individuals consider self-quarantine, if exposed to someone with a known diagnosis and use discretion if they have traveled in an area with a documented outbreak.

Employees who self-quarantine should communicate with their supervisors about working remotely during their period of quarantine.

All of the information above is effective until further notice.

This is an unparalleled situation for our university community, but we are prepared and equipped to meet this challenge. As we always do, ECU will stay committed to providing quality education to students, to serving our community and region, and to providing courageous leadership as we get through these trying times.

Uncertainty and impacts of this public health situation can be stressful. These decisions are not being taken lightly. Ensuring the safety of the university community is at the core of every conversation about our next steps.

Please continue to reference reliable sources for updates as our knowledge about COVID-19 develops. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance on travel and the virus spread. This page is updated regularly to include evolving guidance for the university community.

I want to thank you, once again, for your patience, flexibility, understanding and, above all, your care for one another as we navigate this challenge together.

-Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson

Previous Story

The UNC System says all of their campuses will transition from in-person classes to alternative course delivery because of the coronavirus.

The system says this will happen for most classes no later than March 20th and that alternative course delivery will begin March 23rd and last indefinitely.

The UNC System also says that all outside events and gatherings of more than 100 people will be canceled or postponed unless the school's chancellor or provost decides otherwise.

Both NC State and UNC Chapel Hill have canceled classes next week as their campuses transition to online and alternative course delivery.

UNC System News Release

UNC System Issues Update on Coronavirus Preparations

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The UNC System continues to consult with public health officials to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and prepare for the likelihood that the virus will impact our institutions.

Universities provide environments where large numbers of people interact and congregate. Practicing tried and true methods for maintaining good health, and being vigilant without overreacting, will help individuals remain healthy and help minimize the impact of the virus.

All UNC System institutions will remain open and continue to deliver high-quality instruction for our students. At the same time, we are working to maximize flexibility in how we deliver education in order to limit the potential impact of the coronavirus at our institutions. Guidance has just been issued to all UNC System institutions.

• All UNC System institutions will transition from in-person instruction to a system of alternative course delivery, where possible and practical, no later than March 20. Alternative course delivery will begin on March 23 and last indefinitely. Our goal is to return to in-person instruction as soon as reasonably possible. Each institution will communicate the specific details to its students and faculty.

• University leadership will determine which classes, such as those with labs, will continue to require in-person instruction and attendance.

• Outside events and gatherings of 100 or more people will be cancelled or postponed unless otherwise authorized by a chancellor or provost.

• University-sponsored in-state travel to gatherings of 100 or more people is suspended, and all travel outside the state is suspended, unless otherwise authorized by a chancellor or provost.

UNC System institutions are thriving and supportive communities, ready to adapt quickly as circumstances evolve. We remain focused on the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and the delivery of our core academic mission.