Rogers: COVID-19 Campus Update — Dec. 14, 2021

At this moment, we are all engaged in the final push toward the end of the semester, and on Friday, we celebrate commencement with our Fall 2021 graduates. Then it will be time for a well-deserved break to recharge and reconnect with family and friends. As we look to spring 2022, I have a proud milestone to report.

Since my return to ECU last spring, I have spoken of our collective resilience and the importance of Pirates protecting Pirates. You have taken that to heart, and as of the end of last week, the campus community has achieved an 80% vaccination rate, with 88% of employees attesting to being vaccinated. Up-to-date tracking of cases, testing and vaccination rates are available on our COVID-19 Dashboard. Vaccination remains the best way to protect ourselves and each other as we face new variants and the continued impact of COVID-19. It is a key component of keeping our campus open and engaging in the activities that make it such a unique and special place.

As a reminder, if you have not yet been vaccinated or would like to receive a booster, vaccinations are available on campus through ECU Student Health Services or the ECU Family Practice Pharmacy.

Unfortunately, we are not yet fully on the other side of this pandemic. Over the last two weeks we have observed increases in new cases on campus and hospitalizations at Vidant Medical Center. The university is now at an elevated risk level, and the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID Data Tracker continues to classify Pitt County and our campus as areas of substantial community transmission.

For spring 2022, our mitigation efforts, including masking, will remain largely unchanged from the fall semester. As we begin the semester, face coverings will be required in all indoor spaces on campus for students, faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. We will monitor the data and revisit this requirement on Feb. 1, 2022. Additional details and expectations for the ECU community are available on the Return of Pirate Nation website.

Exit Testing and Vaccine Clinic

As you prepare to leave for the semester, we want you to be safe and careful as you travel to your destination. Student Health Services will host a Vaccine Booster Clinic for J&J and Moderna vaccines on Thursday, Dec. 16, in MCSC Ballroom C from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This clinic is open to ECU students, faculty and staff members only. Individuals should bring their insurance card and vaccine card to the clinic. No appointment is necessary. The first 200 individuals who receive a vaccine or booster will get a free Chick-Fil-A coupon.

Students, faculty and staff may participate in exit testing at the MAKO Clinic site (on 10th Street/old FedEx building). The current MAKO Clinic will be operating Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Thursday, Dec. 16. Pre-registration is available at this link.

Spring 2022 Reentry and Surveillance Testing

Residential students who are fully vaccinated or within a 90-day window from a positive COVID-19 test will not be subject to reentry testing requirements. Non-exempt students living in residence halls will be required to participate in reentry testing, which will be offered on campus Jan. 6-9. Check your student email for additional information and contact with questions.

Surveillance testing will continue in the spring semester for students who have not been exempted from testing and for employees who attested to not being vaccinated.

University leadership, in consultation with the UNC System and public health officials, continues to closely monitor the data and take necessary steps to minimize the risk of transmission and help control the spread of COVID-19 as local conditions change. It remains inevitable that we will have cases on campus, but our return to in-person activities this fall has been largely successful, and through continued vigilance we hope to maintain that trend in the spring.

During this semester, two vaccine mandates were implemented on campus for certain employee populations. The clinical vaccine mandate was announced on Sept. 1, 2021. The deadline for impacted employees to comply with this mandate was Dec. 1, 2021. ECU Human Resources will be reaching out to the management of the employees who did not meet that deadline to discuss next steps. The federal contractor mandate, in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 and guidance issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, was announced on Oct. 25, 2021; ECU is taking a phased approach to implementation. A second announcement was made on Dec. 1, 2021, which expanded the number of employees affected by this mandate. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, a nationwide injunction was issued that halted the federal contractor vaccine mandate. As a result of this injunction, ECU has made the decision to pause implementation and enforcement of the federal contractor mandate until more clarity is available. ECU Human Resources will contact employees who have previously been notified they are subject to this mandate.

As you gather with family and friends, please continue practicing safety measures to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy, and most of all, have a safe and merry holiday break!

— Philip G. Rogers, Chancellor