Tents to go up on Baylor campus as preps are made for fall semester

Local News

WACO, Texas – 16 large tents are going up on the Baylor University campus as part of the preparation for a safe student experience during the pandemic.

The tents are designed to be a spot for study space for an overflow crowd at libraries and academic buildings. They will also be outside all dining halls.

“What that’s gonna allow us to do is to decrease the density in our existing campus buildings by increasing the amount of square footage that we have available for dining overflow. For gathering spaces, study spaces, or even some student evenings in the meetings,” Baylor’s Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jason Cook says.

Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone says more than 43,000 square feet of usable space for students will be added with the installation of the tents.

This is all part of the administration’s concerted effort to get students back on campus for the fall.

“Our students are saying, ‘We want to be on campus.’ And so, we have done everything we can and to look at different strategies,” Cook said. “We think we can have mitigation and preventative strategies in place to ensure that we can have a safe and healthy on-campus experience.”

The tents will have walls, flooring, air conditioning and heating – and in some cases, WiFi.

On top of the tents, the school will also be capping classroom sizes, limiting visitors to residence halls, and will make masks mandatory on campus.

“It’s gonna be different intrapersonally. You’re not gonna be able to walk right up to someone and shake their hand or tell them hello,” Baylor senior Wyatt Fogle says. “That’s just gonna be a totally different college experience for people that have been here.”

Other students see the tents as a way to stay safe while pushing on with their college experience.

“I think it’s a good compromise, for sure,” Baylor sophomore Jordan Fortunati says. “That way, you still get that face [to face], one-on-one connection with people. And it’s still, you know, all pretty safe.”

Other enhancements to dining operations include:
•Meal plans that offer flexibility by adding pick-up locations, continuing the Dining Dollars programs and adding incentives;
•Retail convenience and portability with a focus on making the dining process easier, faster and touchless, including expanded grocery items, grab-and-go meals, expanding the convenience store offerings, such as the Provisions on Demand (POD) at Penland Crossroads, and meal kits;
•Technology solutions with accelerated deployment of mobile ordering, cashless and contactless payments, and an overhaul of the Campus Dish online site to maximize connectivity and convenience for our students;
•Social distancing strategies that include appropriate signage and floor graphics, intentional line management efforts, reconfigurations of the dining areas, disinfection of the entire dining facility between service times and increasing the frequency and focus of the sanitization of high-touch areas;
•Service style adjustments that include the elimination of self-serve and exposed foods to reduce the chance of cross-contamination, adjustments to menus to help increase the speed of service and the conversion to disposable, carry-out and to-go packaging options; and
•Employee safety measures including the required use of face coverings, temperature checks, mandatory handwashing every 20 minutes, daily wellness checks regarding symptoms, exposure or international travel and stringent safety requirements for all vendors to gain and maintain approval to supply our campus with products.

Additional menu modifications and service area adjustments are some of the simplest but most effective ways to mitigate risks to students and guests in the residential dining areas. Changes to these experiences include:
•Full service at all stations, with Baylor Dining employees serving food to students, including the salad bar, desserts and other stations;
•Wrapped and sanitized silverware that will be handed to students;
•Plexi-glass barriers at cashier stands and points of interaction;
•Reduced and adjusted dining area seating to allow for social distancing and to meet occupancy limitations;
•Floor stickers and signage to help reduce congestion points and to control the flow of students through entries, serving lines, dining areas and exits;
•Increased hand sanitization stations throughout the dining locations;
•Contactless swiping solutions that eliminate both a congestion point and a high-touch area; and
•Increased square footage through tent structures erected across campus to allow for adequate social distancing, as described in yesterday’s email.

All Baylor students still have access to a free, on-campus dietitian through Baylor Dining, with the dietitian services offered virtually. Services include counseling, consultations, dining hall tours, questions about any nutrition concerns or food allergies, workshops and nutrition events.

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