Updated August 9 at 10:16 a.m. to include new information on safety protocols.
As Elon University plans to resume in-person classes for fall 2020, Elon Dining is implementing additional safety processes and protocols for the return of students.
According to Director of Auxiliary Services Carrie Ryan, dining staff are creating extensive safety protocols and detailed procedures aimed at keeping both guests and employees safe.
“Elon University and Elon Dining are committed to protecting the health and safety of the Elon community during the coming academic year,” Ryan said. “Achieving that has involved revising and adapting a range of protocols and processes used by Elon Dining to promote physical distancing, increase disinfection efforts and protect the safety of both workers and diners.”
Ryan said these changes include incorporating the best practices from across the food service industry and the latest from public health guidance. It is unclear what these practices are exactly.
In a video posted by the university, Regional District Manager for Elon Dining Laura Thompson said the new protocols put in place for the fall semester ensure that all guests are to be served in a safe environment when entering dining locations.
“Elon Dining has already gone to great lengths to rethink how it receives, prepares and serves food, and how diners interact in residential dining halls and retail locations,” Ryan said. “Dining operations have been completely redesigned to provide physical distancing, new serving stations, and removal of self-service options.”
Keeping guests and employees safe and healthy remains a top priority for Elon Dining.
“All of our frontline associates will show up to work with new protocols in place,” Thompson said. “The first protocol is that they will all be issued masks that they will be required to wear as soon as they enter the building.”
Thompson said the second protocol is an employee check-in, where their temperature will be taken by a health care associate and they will be asked a series of questions. All of this information will be logged on a tablet.
Once the employees are cleared to go to work, they will wash and sanitize their hands and wash their hands again upon returning to their stations, according to Thompson.
Elon Dining will continue to follow rigorous standards when receiving shipments, wiping down and drying cartons and produce before being stored.
“[The dining team has followed] very strict standards to focus on quality and safe food,” Executive Chef Jay Vetter said in the video. “We are limiting the amount of vendors we have on campus and deliveries just to limit the amount of exposure.”
Vetter said upon receiving a truck, all drivers and delivery personnel will be screened in the same manner the associates are prior to entering the building.
In altering the way food is served, Elon Dining is prioritizing safe dining operations.
“We have created safety audits for each of our dining halls and locations,” Thompson said. “[We want] to make sure we are following all protocols specifically every day and allow us to make sure that those protocols are being taken care of.”
Elon Dining has implemented a safety checklist: washing hands and wiping down stations every 20 minutes and wiping down seating areas as soon as guests get up and leave.
Thompson said they also have a series of food safety audits that ensure food is being prepared correctly and protocols are being followed. Social distancing will be implemented in the kitchen when possible and associates will be wearing masks as soon as they enter the building.
Associates will be required to take pauses every 20 minutes to change gloves.
These protocols will be tracked for Elon Dining’s own record.
“We have also included social distancing signage in all of our dining halls,” Thompson said. “We will make sure we have stickers on the floor to make sure our students are social distancing and signage at all stations informing students that dining has moved to non-self-service.
All items will continue to be served in disposable containers, providing guests with the opportunity to dine in or take out, depending on the dining hall’s capacity.
Dining halls have been set for social distancing and limited capacity, at both state and CDC guidelines. Seating capacity has been reduced to state-recommended levels and dining rooms have been redesigned to encourage social distancing between diners. Additional outdoor seating will be added to each dining location, with tented spaces implemented at Lakeside Dining Hall, McEwen Dining Hall, and Clohan Hall.
“The Elon Dining team will monitor the flow of diners into and out of dining halls to keep occupancy levels within set limits,” Director of Elon News Bureau, Owen Covington said. “Capacity limits include those dining in and those entering to pick up food to go.”
Elon Dining has increased the hours of operation at all three residential dining halls.
“There will be continuous service at all of our dining halls, this will allow us to service students better throughout different class times,” Thompson said.
Prior to closing for the evening, each dining hall will be fogged and cleaned properly.
Some retail dining will also add mobile ordering and to-go options.
“We have done a lot of planning this summer to make sure we have a lot of protocols in place so that you feel safe in our dining operations. But along with that, we have also created a lot of new and interesting ideas to bring to the table,” Thompson said.