By Makaela Letayf
To reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19, KU dining hall hours have been decreased, and many employees have been shifted from serving food to cleaning and sanitation.
Students may have noticed the longer lines and fewer options at the dining halls. According to Chris Wallace, general manager of KU Dining Services, this was due to the shift in employees from food stations to cleaning and sanitizing, leaving less hours open for students to eat and giving employees more time to clean.
Staffing levels were based on the business needs, which shifted most drastically in the style of service. Self-serve stations are now served by dining hall staff. Due to this, staffing levels remained fairly the same.
“The dining hall plan for the fall semester included all active employees having work available to them throughout the semester,” Wallace said.
Disinfecting was an addition to the already extensive cleaning and sanitation procedures, according to Wallace. Any additional employees were staffed to the sanitation process. Employees who were shifted may have been shifted from Cub Café to South Dining Hall, and some were placed at the Cub to stay.
These additional people in some places have been staffed to increase the frequency of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting the dining hall areas which include tables, bathrooms, handles and other touchpoints.
Student worker Devon Ignore added that extra precautionary steps were included to make sure the staff and students are safe.
“We get screened before every shift. Our temperatures get taken, and we get asked the typical COVID questions.
We always have to keep our mask on. If we need a drink, we have to go into a different room, not around the food, to take out mask off to get a drink,” Ignore said.
These particular precautions are being taken to ensure there is no risk of transmission.
Students may also have noticed the touchless pay area in the Academic Forum for Chick-Fil-A and Zoca. This service is only available by mobile ordering and is an attempt to reduce the transmission risk.
Hours of operation for Cub Café have been decreased due to the limited student traffic at certain times. The stir fry station in the middle of Cub Café has been closed, just like the self-serve salad bar at South Dining Hall.
Employees taking on more roles means longer lines. For example, waiting in the pasta line at South Dining Hall could have taken students up to 20 minutes to get food. Only one person worked the station’s two stoves.
Issues like this became problematic for students because sometimes there isn’t an extra 20 minutes in the day to wait for pasta. However, this seemed to be the safest option, as it follows Aramark, state, local, federal and KU guidelines.
It remains to be seen how KU Dining Services will address these concerns of long lines next semester.