At the Eastway dining hall, employees feel safe and students dine without concern because of increased COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Charlie Simecek, a psychology major and employee at the Eastway dining hall, acknowledges that working during the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful, especially in areas like food services, but she commends the actions the dining hall has taken to maintain safety for everyone.

Simecek said all employees are required to:

Eastway Dining Hall.jpg

Social distancing at Eastway.

  • Wear facial coverings

  • Get temperature checks before their shifts 

  • Confirm they haven’t traveled in the last 14 days

  • Confirm they haven’t experienced any COVID-19 symptoms in the past two days 

  • Confirm they haven’t been in contact with anyone who has tested positive

Simecek said that these health checks, along with the number of employees working at a time, have created a system that she’s comfortable with. “Since we all have set schedules, it would be really easy to pinpoint who was in contact with who if someone tests positive,” Simecek said. There are never more than five people at a station and they are distanced from one another.

Due to COVID-19, student managers sanitize and wipe down tables throughout the day. Dishes are rinsed, cleaned with soap, then soaked in sanitizer, then air-dried. Nothing is touched by employees without gloves.

Likewise, employees are not allowed to touch anything that students touch. For instance, employees can’t take the to-go boxes; they must put the food onto a plate then give that to the students so they can fill their boxes. On the other hand, cups, silverware and napkins are no longer sitting out for students to take; they must ask an employee if they need any. 

The dining halls have moved back into using reusable utensils and plates, but paper and plastic options are still available upon request for anyone wary about cleanliness.  

Kellum Thomson, a nursing major, eats at Eastway every day. He said former self-serve stations at the dining hall, such as the utensils, condiments, soups and salads, are now stationed by an employee. Condiments used to be at each table, but now they are in packets or little cups by request.

Eastway has reduced the amount of tables and chairs available. There are two to four chairs at most tables, but a lot of people eat alone. “If you’re at your table, you don’t have to wear your mask, but if you’re going up to get something you have to wear a mask. … For the most part, people are following the rules,” Thomson said.

While he feels safe and comfortable being in Eastway, Thomson said that he still chooses to eat in his dorm, away from the public. “Most people still do takeout boxes, like I usually do  I don’t eat in Eastway very often.” 

Ethan Cohen is a COVID-19 reporter. Contact him at ecohen7@kent.edu.

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