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Dining halls incorporate safety measures to accommodate for more people on campus

February 16, 2021
<p>The Edge dining hall inside of Akers Hall on Jan. 29, 2021.</p>

The Edge dining hall inside of Akers Hall on Jan. 29, 2021.

Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

As the new semester begins not only are residence halls filling up but dining halls are as well. With 3,800 students on campus for the spring semester, more dining halls are open.

However, the dining halls have returned to take-out only dining until the two week "enhanced physical distancing" period ended Feb. 13.

"We are not allowed to eat in the dining halls at all anymore for the two-week period and are supposed to pretty much stay in our rooms except for going to pick up food, doing laundry, and doing physical activity outside," Biochemistry freshman Natalie Currie said.

With the dining halls, Sparty's convenience stores are open in several locations across campus. This includes Sparty's Market in 1855 Place and smaller Sparty's locations in Holmes Hall, the Union, Owen Hall, Veterinary Medicine, Biomedical and Physical Sciences, Clinical Center, Brody Square, and more. Furthermore, students are able to preorder meals on a new mobile app to practice social distancing. This can be utilized at all open dining halls and Sparty's locations.

Prior to the physical-distance directive being put into place, Michigan State University Culinary Services emphasizes extra precautions that are being taken to ensure students and faculty remain safe.

Associate Director of Marketing and Communications at Culinary Services Cheryl Berry said that multiple measures have been taken to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in dining halls, including requiring masks and the installation of plexiglass.

"Face coverings are required indoors and outdoors on campus, so guests and team members continue to wear them unless they are actively eating or drinking. Our dining operations have enhanced cleaning protocols in place, including dedicated time each day for staff to focus on cleaning and sanitation," Berry said. "Further protection is provided by Plexiglass installed at host stands and points of sale, the elimination of cash payment at dining halls and the use of tap readers for on-site meal plan access. Other physical distancing measures include floor graphics, line queuing, and cables to secure chairs to tables, which discourages the movement of furniture for those enjoying dine-in service. We continue to abide by occupancy restrictions and adjust indoor seating options as regulations change in Michigan."

Although dining halls are open for takeout only, they continue to provide various options and remain open throughout the day.

Game design and acting freshman Ben Barber said it is nice that the dining halls continue to have many dining options and long hours.

"There's always a vegan option, vegetarian option, and even halal options as well," Barber said. "The dining hall hours are pretty long so I can go back in there and get stuff for every meal."

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