ECU plans full, in-person return to campus next fall

The Shawnee News-Star

ADA – Thanks to a strong adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols on campus and a sharp rise in vaccine availability, East Central University plans to return to full, in-person instruction for the upcoming fall 2021 semester.

“For a year now, we have fought through this pandemic and all its attending complications and restrictions,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “I’m thrilled to start the process of bringing everybody safely back on campus next fall so we can resume face-to-face instruction, which we know is the best and preferred method for our students and faculty.”

Students are excited and hopeful about the news, not only for in-person classroom instruction but also for a return to normalcy outside the classroom.

“Next year will be my senior year, so I’m very excited to hear this,” said Mariana Escobar, of Broken Bow. “We’ve all just been with our small group of friends, because there hasn’t been much going on around campus. I’m really happy about the return of campus life, just the events, football, block parties, Homecoming. That’s where you find community, friendship, spirit, and being proud to be a Tiger, and that’s something we have lacked.”

The Covid-19 pandemic forced ECU to close its physical campus in March 2020, midway through the spring semester. Instruction was moved online for all courses at that time and all on-campus events were cancelled. Covid-19 continued to pose health risks throughout the summer months, and consequently ECU reconvened its fall 2020 semester with flexible instruction options. That same approach was carried into the current spring semester.

In the name of safety, many students opted for virtual instruction over the past two semesters. While some made the transition easily, others struggled with it. Pandemic safety protocols also led to cancellation of consecutive in-person graduation ceremonies, held virtually instead.

With the number of new reported COVID-19 cases now dropping on local, state and national levels, and an increase in vaccinations locally, ECU is prepared to return to a more normal, pre-Covid environment. Some safety protocols may remain in place, but as always ECU will follow recommended guidelines as set forth by local, state and national health care agencies.

“We are ready to get back to a full, healthy campus,” Pierson said. “That means full classrooms and a full calendar of exciting in-person events. We are looking forward to re-energizing campus for all of ECU’s stakeholders, especially our students. They deserve a full university experience, and we’ll work hard to safely return that to them next fall.”