Housing and dining staff encourage following COVID-19 guidelines

Marshall University students can expect multiple changes in residence life and din- ing options when they return to school for the fall 2020 semester.

Some of the most noticeable changes include no visitors in the residence halls, in- cluding visitors from one residence hall to another, more virtual programs in the halls, reduced seating in dining areas and more to-go options for dining services. Karen Sommers, assistant director for Residence Life, said students can help create a safe campus environment by being responsible.

“It comes down to students utilizing a lot of personal accountability and responsibil- ity to make good choices,” Sommers said. “We can only put so many procedures and protocols and parameters in place, but it really comes down to the student and their choice to help us help them.”

Sommers said though the decision was difficult, Housing and Residence Life staff chose to prohibit all visitors, not including the visitor permitted to help on-campus students on move-in day, and the decision was made to help control who was coming on campus and potentially help decreasethe spread of COVID-19.

She also said even though Residence Life ways to connect with students on campus. “We are trying to put more stock in vir- utilizes social interaction to engage with stu- tual engagement opportunities for our dents, they are working toward using new students,” she said. “We’re trying to really

encourage social distancing, and we’re re- ally working on creative and innovative ways to still engage students that may not necessarily be physically taking them to an event. It may be more of a virtual en- gagement, or it may be an outside event or something along those lines.”

Students will also be relocated to Hold- erby Hall from their assigned housing if they test positive for coronavirus at any point during the academic year. They will be required to live in Holderby for the two- week standard quarantine period and will be required to have two negative coronavi- rus tests before being permitted to return to their assigned room. Sommers said students who move to Holderby will be provided with information about ordering food through a website and will have symp- toms monitored to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

There are designated floors in Hold- erby Hall dedicated to students who have actively tested positive for coronavirus and separate floors for students who have come into contact with students who tested positive…

For dining options, General Manager for Sodexo Cheryl King said all of the previous dining options will still be available, but some of them will be avail- able in different ways.

King encouraged students to download GrubHub, Ecommerce and Sodexo’s Bite apps. GrubHub has already been introduced to campus for students to order food to-go, but the Ecommerce app will allow students to shop for products sold in the 1837 Mar- ket in Towers Marketplace, and King said the Bite app will provide students with updated information regarding dining hours and availability throughout the semester.

King said seating in the dining areas will follow state protocol, meaning it will be limited to 50% ca- pacity, but students will be able to pick up mobile orders at a table set up at the Memorial Student Cen- ter entrance to the dining area.

Harless Dining Hall will also appear to have the

biggest changes because besides some beverage stations, King said there will be no more self-serve options. She said there will be more personnel as- sisting with serving in the dining halls to avoid spreading the virus.

King also said though Sodexo employees are still figuring out the schedule models for the fall semes- ter, the new food safety guidelines may create new jobs for students, but everyone will be following safety guidelines.

“This is all going to be a learning process, but we will do everything by the guidelines that we have with the health department and with Sodexo,” King said. “So, our folks will have their masks and gloves and will be following those safety guidelines and keeping our dining areas clean.”

Sommers noted other changes in Housing and Residence Life additional singles rooms have been made available in residence halls, will be providing

a mask for students who live on campus, in addition to the two they are receiving from the university, and housekeeping staff will be cleaning high-contact ar- eas, such as elevator buttons, frequently.

Sommers said she hopes students return to cam- pus with positive outlooks and understanding that the staff is doing what they can to keep everyone healthy.

“Really what I’m asking students is that they come with a good attitude and a lot of patience, that’s what everybody is going to need to make it through this year,” she said. “Our staff is going to do our best to keep everybody healthy and safe and happy and en- gaged as possible. Our staff is going to do the best they can for you, but it takes the full participation from everyone, not just students, not just staff, to ad- here to protocols and make good choices.”

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected] marshall.edu.