ADA – East Central University’s ability to bring students back to campus for the fall 2020 semester while effectively safeguarding against further spread of Covid-19 spells relief for ECU’s bottom line – which in turn provides a boon to the local economy.
“ECU definitely contributes to Ada’s sales tax collections throughout the academic year,” said Lisa Bratcher, City of Ada public information director, referring to the months of August through May. “It is always good to see the students come back to town, and the entire community benefits when they are here.”
Fall 2020 classes at East Central University began August 17 with flexible instruction options available for students. Because ECU is offering in-person classes, students have returned to live on campus as they would in a normal year – with Covid-19 safety protocols such as face coverings, social distancing and hand-sanitizing stations in place.
Enrollment numbers have not dipped at the University, despite the lingering challenges posed by the pandemic. Thanks to a strong scholarship endowment and transfer incentives, numbers are slowly but steadily trending upward, comparing favorably with recent years. In general, this has not been the case at other universities.
Vigorous preparation for the safe return of students has also proven beneficial. ECU officials invested significant time and resources to ensure students and employees would feel safe upon returning to campus, and the Ada City Council has been proactive in enforcing Covid-19 protocols as well. With precautions also being implemented off campus, students may feel safe entering the community to engage with local businesses.
“Our number one priority is the health and safety of all ECU stakeholders,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “That means students, faculty and employees here on campus, but also parents, visitors and our community partners. We want to provide all stakeholders with a safe and healthy environment here at ECU and we see the community working toward the same. It is further evidence of the strong and mutually beneficial partnerships ECU enjoys in Ada.”
Cutline: An ECU student visits a vendor booth Monday during Howdy Days, part of the annual Tiger Welcome and Orientation Week activities on campus at the beginning of the fall semester. Students and vendors practiced safe social distancing and wore required face coverings for the event. (Photo by Erica Minden)