During a global pandemic, even if most people on campus are vaccinated, there should be stricter regulations in place to decrease the number of crowds in the dining hall.
With the Delta Variant of COVID-19 rampant in Maryland, most schools still have protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic, including McDaniel College. At McDaniel, carrying over from the last academic year, the indoor mask mandate is still in place, you have to reserve a space to work out in the gym and there are designated places for people to eat.
At Englar Dining Hall, however, it seems like there are no COVID-19 protocols in place. While the staff there still disinfect the tables after people are done eating, that seems like the only protocol in place to fight COVID-19. For instance, there are no more line markers or gates to designate which lines people should go in and, because of that, the front of Englar is extremely congested in certain time frames.
As for serving food, we have gone back to some foods being self-served like fruits and yogurt, bagels, salads, soups, dips and bread. While the large number of students back on campus, all needing to obtain food, could be a reason why certain items are self-served again, it only causes the front of the dining hall to be more crowded than usual.
Last academic school year, half of our student population decided to stay home during the start of the pandemic and this year, most of those students returned back to campus or decided to commute. Not to mention, 600 new first year students enrolled at McDaniel this fall. If you add all of the undergraduate students together, we have 1,681 students at McDaniel. That may not seem like a big number compared to other colleges, but in the case of McDaniel’s small campus, that is a huge number.
This doesn’t mean that we can prevent all crowds in our dining hall, considering the fact that there are more students this year, but something needs to be done, especially for those who still feel paranoid about COVID. One thing that could change is the way seats are set up in the dining hall, and maybe only half of the items listed above should be self-served. Regardless, changes should be made in Englar Dining Hall to ensure the safety of McDaniel faculty, staff and students.