WSU Dining Services put a reopening plan in place to minimize exposure to COVID-19 in dining halls. The plan includes new safety regulations and changes to operating hours.
Sarah Larson, director of residential dining and culinary services, said students must complete an online attestation that they have not experienced any COVID-19 symptoms before entering the dining halls. Students must also wear masks or face coverings and practice social distancing with help from floor markings, signs and other visual cues.
The reopening plan was reviewed by the university’s risk management group, the public health emergency preparedness task force and the executive committee, she said.
“The university is working hard to message what the expectations are for students,” she said. “We’re not going to be heavy-handed but we expect students to adhere to six-foot distancing.”
Adam Koerner, associate director of culinary services, said the chefs will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing while preparing food. The kitchen staff will also frequently wash their hands while handling food.
The reopening plan has two tiers, Larson said. The first focuses on following state guidelines for reopening. The second implements safety protocols that are unique to each dining facility.
Koerner said one protocol involves different closing times for some dining facilities on campus. Southside and Northside dining halls will be closed from 2-4:30 p.m. Hillside dining hall will be closed during breakfast hours, but will remain open from lunch until normal closing time.
Brian Keithley, associate director for residential dining, said Flix Cafe will reopen under similar guidelines as the dining halls. Food service will be conducted through online orders, pickups and deliveries. Night service hours have been cut and Flix Cafe will close at 10 p.m. every night.
The Northside, Southside and Hillside markets will remain open and operate the same as previous years, he said. The Towers market in Stephenson Complex will be completely closed.
Larson said in-person seating is available for dining halls but is limited at 50 percent capacity under state regulations. The exact capacity numbers for each dining hall are still being discussed by the dining services department.
Keithly said monitors will be placed under the entrance doors to track everyone entering and exiting the dining halls. This will keep the dining halls’ capacity from exceeding state guidelines.
He said hiring employees for fall was a challenge because they were unable to recruit during spring due to the switch to online classes.
“We’re not sure where we are entirely with recruiting,” he said. “We know the counts are down and therefore the opportunity for employment is down for students because the need is not there.”