Grace Jordan, Campus Carrier arts & living editor
Gabe Smith, Campus Carrier asst. ars & living editor
The highly contagious COVID-19 has forced Berry to adapt its policies and rules to limit the spread of the virus. Multiple changes on campus are evident and have influenced how Berry students engage in their day-to-day life.
Virtually all residence hall and academic building bathrooms are now equipped with spray bottles containing Virex, a disinfecting solution. Signs in the restrooms instruct users to use the Virex spray before and after each use of the facility in order to keep the area cleaned. Communal bathrooms pose a threat to the exposure of COVID-19 due to the high level of traffic in and out of the bathroom and the wide array of students and faculty alike making use of them.
Multiple water stations are situated in dorms and academic buildings. Most of these stations are not only water fountains, but bottle filling stations as well. All direct-use water fountains around campus have been disabled; only the bottle filling function currently remains. While this change may be inconvenient for some students, like when you forget to bring a bottle to the Cage, it is effective at limiting the spread of germs. Further, it encourages the uptake of reusable water bottles, which are better for the environment than plastic and might encourage better hydration, even after COVID-19 passes.
Driving around campus, you might see large white tents set up outside academic buildings – these are the outdoor classrooms. They’re being used to allow larger class meetings that may not be permissible in a confined area and to encourage social distancing. Their purpose is also to simply allow students an opportunity to study and learn outdoors on Berry’s beautiful campus.
Berry students are familiar with the Welcome Gate. All cars have a decal that allows them to enter and leave the campus. Now, however, students must stop and have their temperature taken before being able to open the gate. This is so students and faculty driving off campus will not infect others if they were unknowingly exposed while in Rome. After 7 p.m., each student has to go through the Welcome Gate and have their student ID written down. This is done for contact tracing purposes in case a student attends a large gathering and becomes infected.
If you look closely in a number of academic buildings around campus, you may notice one-way arrows marked on the floor. Some doors also have enter-only or exit-only signs. This strategy seeks to limit the situations of overcrowded hallways and prevent students from facing each other and potentially spreading the virus. By keeping students traveling in only one direction in hallways, Berry hopes to keep students from bumping into each other and spreading germs.
One of the biggest changes Berry has seen is the new dining hall updates. In the past the dining hall has housed multiple food stations and a chaotic movement of students, but now the flow of where Berry students eat is more directed. In the past, one could enter and exit from both doors in the room.
However, now it is required, for students and faculty to enter through one door and exit through the other. There are no longer self-serve options and students are not allowed to grab their own silverware. Moreover, the number of students seated at a table is limited and tables that are smaller have partitions that separate each side from the other. Since COVID-19 is a highly contagious airborne disease, the extra precautions have been put in place in the dining hall, where students are allowed to take off their masks to eat.
Most dorm buildings on campus have rooms where students can drop their trash. They housed multiple trash cans and a recyclable bin. This room was highly convenient for students who could quickly drop their trash off without having to walk to a dumpster.
The flow of customers at both the Berry Bean’ry and Java City has been completely reworked. Customers now line up at the Viking Court entrance to the Bean’ry and can only exit through the side near the post office. Similarly, the main entrance to Java City has been made exit-only. Customers now enter behind the café, and the waiting area is separated between a line facing the cashier and a line facing the pickup area.
In the past students could gain access to other buildings and other halls within visiting hours. Now, students can only get into their building and their own hallway. Students’ key cards will not work on any other hallway or building. The recently changed rule that no one was allowed in other people’s dorms or common spaces contributed to this restriction. Up until recent residence life policy changes, no students were allowed to visit other students’ dorms or common spaces, thus this rule was enacted. Masks could not be enforced, nor social distancing.
Berry has recently introduced personal bubbles. With personal bubbles, friends are allowed to form groups of up to six people. These six people are allowed in each other’s hallways and in their dorms with no consequence. Masks and social distancing is heavily suggested, but not required. This helped to create get campus slightly back to normal and allow Berry students some form of freedom while still maintaining safe and healthy practices. Students’ bubble registration information is also another way to contact trace if one gets sick.
A smaller change to the campus is the removal of ice in ice machines. Before this semester ice machines were placed in every kitchen and students were allowed to use them freely. However, while they are still there, students are not allowed to get ice from these machines. This is because of the communal way these machines are set up. There is a scoop for each ice machine that every student has to touch to get ice, and there is no way to clean the plastic scoop every time it is used. One also has to hover over the machine to scoop up the ice, increasing the chance of an infected person getting germs over the machine and on the handle.
In the past, students have regularly attended various CE credits, in-person, around campus. Walking around a building like Krannert during the evenings, one might expect to see a group of green-shirted ushers entering students’ ID numbers into their phones. Now, however, while cultural events are still taking place, students must attend them almost entirely online (some events still keep a limited in-person capacity, typically no more than 50 people). The transition to online CE credits hasn’t been without hiccups: it can currently take up to two weeks following virtual CE attendance before the credit is reflected in official records, and students must take specific steps while attending (like providing their ID number in the Zoom chat, and ensuring they connect with their Berry-affiliated Zoom account) to ensure their presence can be verified.
The most impactful change so far has been the mask mandate. Students are required to wear masks or face coverings in all public areas, including residence hall hallways and restrooms. According to the CDC, wearing face coverings significantly reduces transmission of COVID-19.
There are countless other changes that can’t all be enumerated, because the COVID-19 pandemic has touched so many facets of students’ lives, both on campus and off.