Updated: 8/6/2020

Welcome back! We are excited to see you!

As you know, we are living in unique and uncertain times. We recognize that you are seeking certainty, but none of us can know what the future holds for certain. We can, however, control how we approach the future. East Central University is working hard and is confident that whatever shape the academic and non-academic curriculum takes, it will be the excellent, collegial and productive experience that drew you to East Central University.

For the fall 2020 semester, beginning August 17, we will have a mixture of face-to-face, blended (online/virtual and in-person mix of instruction) as well as online/virtual instruction. ECU will maintain a fall academic calendar consistent with past years which includes scheduled holidays for Labor Day, Fall Break, and Thanksgiving. We are working to ensure our plans are consistent with prevailing health guidance and local, state, and national government requirements. You will be informed as soon as we become aware of any changes. You may also review the ECU COVID-19 Response page on the website for additional information and check for updates.


If you're sick, stay home, rest, and remember to:

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Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve.

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Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

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Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects (for example, TV remotes, cell phones, and computers).

Ways to minimize the risk of COVID-19 at ECU

  • Most classrooms will be arranged to allow for six-feet of social distancing between students. Please keep the seating as arranged when you enter a room. Some rooms, such as laboratories, may not allow for social distancing; other measures, such as mandatory face coverings, will be followed.
  • Each room will have disinfectant wipes, sprays, and gloves should you wish to wipe down your area before using it.
  • There are hand sanitizer stations in hallways. Use them frequently.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a face covering at all times when you are near others.
  • Anyone who feels sick should seek medical care and not come to campus until cleared to return.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. Will ECU offer in-person classes or just online instruction?
A. For the fall 2020 semester, beginning August 17, ECU will offer a mixture of face-to-face, blended (online/virtual and in-person mix of instruction) as well as online/virtual instruction.

Q. Is this going to be a normal semester in terms of the calendar?
A. Yes. ECU will maintain a fall academic calendar consistent with past years which includes scheduled holidays for Labor Day, Fall Break and Thanksgiving.

Q. How did ECU arrive at this decision?
A. ECU is working to ensure its plans are consistent with prevailing health guidance and local, state, and national government requirements. As long as these entities feel it is safe to reopen while following safety guidelines, ECU will move forward with its plans. You will be informed as soon as we become aware of any changes.

Q. So what is ECU doing to ensure we are safe?
A. ECU is taking steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections as well as the spread of any disease. Every member of our community—including you—must do their part. This means adhering to national, state, and local health guidelines and requirements as well as specific measures ECU is taking. ECU is closely monitoring these guidelines.

Q. What are the specific steps ECU is taking to ensure safety?
A. ECU is creating a safe, in-person learning environment for its students and employees. This includes the following:

  1. Most classrooms will be arranged to allow for six-feet of social distancing between students. Please keep the seating as arranged when you enter a room. Some rooms, such as laboratories, may not allow for social distancing; other measures, such as mandatory face coverings, will be followed.
  2. Each room will have disinfectant wipes, sprays, and gloves should you wish to wipe down your area before using it.

Q. What can we do when we return to campus?
A. In addition to following the social distancing guidelines set forth above, you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by doing the following:

  1. There are hand sanitizer stations in hallways. Use them frequently.
  2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Wear a face covering at all times when you are near others.
  4. Anyone who feels sick should seek medical care and not come to campus until cleared to return.

Q. What if things change before school starts?
A. None of us can guarantee what shape COVID-19 will take, and none of us, including ECU, can guarantee a COVID-19-free environment. A virus-free environment is simply not feasible. It would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise. To help everyone stay informed, we are planning a virtual ECU student town hall meeting prior to the start of the semester. In this forum, we will share any updates, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. The Zoom link will be shared via the ECU website, email, and text message. More information will be forthcoming about this event.

Q. So are face masks going to be mandatory at ECU?
A. The City of Ada currently has a mask mandate in place until at least August 17. If and when that expires, ECU will continue to require masks on campus until further notice. Properly worn cloth masks, face coverings, or face shields will be required when a person is inside a university facility, where there are any number of people gathered, and where social distancing of six feet or more is not assured.

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Q. Is ECU going to provide us with face masks?
A. Yes, ECU will provide each student and employee with a reusable cloth mask at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester. Disposable masks will also be available throughout the campus.

Q. What if I’m not able to wear a mask?
A. Students who are unable to wear face coverings should contact the Student Development Office at 580-559-5208 or by email to cbuchanan@ecok.edu. Employees who are unable to wear face coverings should contact the Employment Services Office at 580-559-5217.

Q. Is ECU going to offer COVID-19 testing?
A. The university’s Health Center will have COVID-19 tests on hand for those students who are symptomatic. We are working with the Pontotoc County Health Department on this. They are in charge of the tests and test results. Testing on campus occurs between 8-10 a.m., Monday-Friday. Employees are encouraged to visit their own health care providers, the Pontotoc County Health Department, or the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center. Each agency has its own protocol for testing. You will need to contact them directly for more information.

Q. Are we going to be able to eat in Taff Cafeteria?
A. Yes, Taff Cafeteria will be open for the fall 2020 semester, serving a full menu with limited seating. There will be some changes as outlined by the new guidelines below:

  1. A face mask will be required to enter the dining hall. The mask can be removed once the diner sits down. The mask must be worn upon leaving the dining hall.
  2. You can get a meal to go if you choose not to eat in the dining hall. The mask must be worn while you pick up food and remain on until you leave the dining hall.
  3. All food will be served by employees, including traditionally self-serve foods such as salad bar and hamburgers.
  4. Beverage machines will be shut down. All drinks will be in cans or bottles.
  5. Social distancing inside the cafeteria will be enforced at all times.
  6. All food items will be served in disposable ware.
  7. Meals will be available for any person in quarantine.

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Q. I have questions that aren’t answered here. How can I get them answered?
A. We will be conducting town hall meetings to answer your questions about how the university is preparing for the fall semester. Please submit your questions to us in advance so that we are prepared to answer them. Please submit your questions by Wednesday, July 29, using this link. The town hall meetings will be held via Zoom. An email will be sent to you at least 48 hours before the event with the Zoom link. Because of the size of the event, only the Q & A function of the platform will be enabled. Should the audience exceed the maximum capabilities of Zoom (500 people), we will look at additional sessions. The event will be recorded and made available for those who are unable to attend. We plan to host several town hall meetings throughout the semester to help the campus stay informed. Those dates are posted on the university’s main calendar.


Positive Test Policy (Student)

The student will notify ECU Health Services by phone at 580-559-5713 immediately upon learning of the positive test. The student will provide the following information: name, contact information and the medical facility where the student tested. 

ECU Health Services will:

ECU Health Services, upon a signed release form, will inform:

  • Residential Students (Director of Housing)
  • Athletes (Athletic Director)
  • Student Employees (Director of Employment Services)
  • Classroom Faculty (Provost, or appointee)
  • Sanitization (Director of Facilities Management)

Students should follow the guidance of ECU Health Services, the Pontotoc County Health Department and/or their personal physicians before returning to campus. Current requirements for returning to campus after a positive test include 10 days isolation with symptoms improving and fever free without the aid of fever-reducing medication for three days. If the fever occurred on the eighth or ninth day in isolation, the student needs to be fever free for 72 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication.

Minimizing Exposure/Contact Tracing

ECU Health Services will coordinate with the Pontotoc County Health Department, which will determine which students and/or employees may have been exposed to the virus and need to take additional precautions. In addition:

Infected students should follow CDC-recommended steps. Infected students should not return to campus until they have met the criteria to discontinue home/campus isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider. Antibody test results will not solely be used by ECU to make decisions about returning students to campus.

Campus Notifications  

The President’s Office will send out weekly updates identifying the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the ECU campus community.  

Building/Office Space Cleaning

ECU may close off areas used for prolonged periods of time by the infected person to facilitate necessary sanitization. Such areas might include:

  • Housing
  • Classroom
  • Work space (if applicable)
  • Other

The entities listed above will coordinate with the Physical Plant to initiate cleaning and disinfecting the exposed areas. To minimize potential exposure for Physical Plant employees to COVID-19 respiratory droplets, such employees may wait as long as 24 hours from identification of an infected person on campus to begin cleaning and disinfecting the exposed areas. 

ECU will follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations including:

  • Cleaning dirty surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting them.
  •  Disinfecting surfaces, using products that meet EPA criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and are appropriate for the surface.
  • Follow the instructions on the product labels to ensure safe and effective use of the product.

Positive Test Policy (Employee)

The employee and/or supervisor will notify ECU Health Services by phone at 580-559-5713 immediately upon learning of the positive test. Health Services will need to be provided the following information: name, contact information and the medical facility where the employee was tested. 

ECU Health Services will:

Employees are required to follow the guidance of ECU Health Services, the Pontotoc County Health Department and/or their personal physicians before returning to campus. Current requirements for returning to campus after a positive test include 10 days isolation with symptoms improving and fever free without the aid of fever-reducing medication for three days. If the fever occurred on the eighth or ninth day in isolation, the student needs to be fever free for 72 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication.

Minimizing Exposure/Contact Tracing

ECU Health Services will coordinate with the Pontotoc County Health Department to determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and need to take additional precautions. In addition:

Infected employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Infected employees should not return to work until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider. Antibody test results will not solely be used by ECU to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.

Employment Services will work with the employee to submit documentation of the positive test. 

Campus Notifications

  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, supervisors may inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but must maintain confidentiality (you cannot give or elude to the name of the person that is infected) as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Do not post any signs or statements on the buildings, offices or on social media about a positive test. Public notifications regarding positive COVID-19 ECU employees will only be issued by the President’s Office, the Office of Communications & Marketing, or Employment Services.
  • The President’s Office will send out weekly updates identifying the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the ECU campus community.  

Building/Office Space Cleaning

In most cases, ECU will not shut down the building in which a person who tests positive with COVID-19 works. ECU may close off areas used for prolonged periods of time by the infected person.

  • The infected person’s supervisor and/or Health Services will coordinate with the Physical Plant to initiate cleaning and disinfecting the exposed areas. To minimize potential exposure for Physical Plant employees to COVID-19 respiratory droplets, such employees may wait as long as 24 hours from identification of an infected person on campus to begin cleaning and disinfecting the exposed areas. 

ECU will follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations including:

  • Cleaning dirty surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting them.
  • Disinfecting surfaces, using products that meet EPA criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface.
  • Follow the instructions on the product labels to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
  • Employees should use personal protective equipment (PPE) depending on the setting and disinfectant product used.

Sick Leave and Covid-19

  • ECU employees that are affected by COVID-19 may be able to use federal sick leave for all or a portion of their leave. Review the FFCRA law here.
  • Traditional ECU leave types such as Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA may also be available depending on the case. Employment Services will make the determination when needed on a case-by-case basis.

Recent Updates

Please note: Below are direct communications (most recent at top) from East Central University and represent the latest, most-accurate official position of the University in regard to the COVID-19 situation.

July 29, 2020 - Fall Housing Check-In Map
July 23, 2020 - COVID-19 and Public Health-Informed Policies for Housing and Residence Life
July 23, 2020 - Update from Housing and Residence Life
July 22, 2020 - External Press Release on Preparing for Fall 2020 Semester
July 22, 2020 - Clarification on Mask Mandate from the President's Office
July 22, 2020 - Update from the President's Office
July 13, 2020 - Update from the President's Office

ECU COVID-19 RESPONSE PLAN