VT adapts dining halls for COVID-19 safety

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 4:20 AM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia Tech is regularly recognized as one of the best schools in the country for dining hall food.

But now, in the age of COVID-19, Virginia Tech Dining hopes to be recognized for something else: “They want to be known for being committed to excellence in safety as well as the student experience,” said Virginia Tech VP for Student Affairs Frank Shushok.

All throughout D2 at Dietrick you’re surrounded by signs of change, and reminders that safety is a top priority.

Gone are the days of self-serve pizza and salad bars. Now, a masked employee serves up each meal behind plexiglass barriers.

Face coverings are required and touchless pay is in place. Hand sanitizing stations are always in view -- no matter where you stand -- including right next to the soda fountain, where you’re asked to sanitize your hands before making a drink selection.

Stickers on the floor and at food stations guide you through your dining experience, bar seating has been removed, and tables are separated as far as possible.

“The key thing is reducing the density of people and so that means reducing places to sit and spreading people out,” said Shushok.

At D2, capacity has been reduced from around 1,100 to 300, each table is sanitized several times per day using an electrostatic fogger, and students are encouraged to take their food to go, with tables set up just outside under tents.

“Students need to eat at least three times a day and so doing this right is really important. We have to get this right,” said Shushok.

Dining halls are currently only serving students who live on campus and have meal plans.

Certain take-out locations are also allowing students to order their food ahead of time on Grubhub.

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