Six Feet Away

Talia Gutierrez, Staff Reporter/Photographer

Many things have changed on Lakeland’s campus since the spread of COVID-19. We all wear masks, sanitize our hands, and keep our distance from each other in hopes of stopping the spread. However, out of all the facilities on campus, the cafeteria and dining services have been a major focal point in this transition. 

It is well-known that many students will come into contact with one another during dining hours, a point Director of Dining Services, Mark Wagner, knew and wanted to circumvent as much as possible. 

“We’re all reacting. First and foremost, we all want the students to be safe, you know? There is no Lakeland without the students,” said Wagner, “And we always want to make sure that we’re going out of our way to make sure their experience here is worth their valued time and money.” 

And the results have been amazing. After deciding to ‘divide and conquer’ they decided to separate as many of the dining services as possible.  

The bar is no longer at the grill, the sub shop is now located outside of the cafeteria, and even the lines for the cafeteria and grill are being separated through the use of stanchions. 

“We didn’t want everybody to be waiting in line,” explained Wagner, “We wanted to distribute a little bit so they could get their meals and get to class. And, most importantly, we didn’t want the huge congregation where everybody would be touching each other.” 

Wagner went on further to say that they plan to continue following any protocols mandated by the government, “whether it be Wisconsin or Federal, we’ll comply with them.” 

However, aside from the masks and new lines, there haven’t been many changes. While it is true that staff wash their hands 10 to 15 times a day, and all work surfaces and tables in the cafeteria are sanitized every 15 to 20 minutes, neither of these things is a new concept for the staff.  

“…that was a process we used even before the pandemic…They (employees) have to have a sanitization bottle and wipes where they work,” stated Wagner.  

The safety of students and staff is their number one priority.  

When asked how the changes were being taken by said parties, Wagner gave a very enthused response. 

 “The students and staff have been such a great part in doing it with us and doing it with precautions. It wasn’t like I was a high school principal and had to be out there. Everybody kinda knew what they had to do, which helped everybody.” 

All these careful precautions, while a major adjustment compared to previous years, have been received very well by Lakeland students and staff.  

We can only hope it continues so this pandemic passes sooner rather than later because, ”…we’re all looking forward to when we can take a plate and sit down again,” stated Wagner.