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UNK Dining, other student union services will look different this fall | KTIC Radio

UNK Dining, other student union services will look different this fall

UNK Dining, other student union services will look different this fall
Larger plastic barriers were installed along the serving lines in The Market @ 27th dining hall inside the Nebraskan Student Union. UNK Dining won’t offer self-serve, buffet-style meals when the fall semester begins. Instead, UNK Dining employees will serve guests. Students can also pick up to-go meals at a counter inside the Ponderosa Room. (Photo by Todd Gottula, UNK Communications)

KEARNEY – Lopers heading to the Nebraskan Student Union to purchase textbooks or grab a bite to eat will notice several changes as the fall semester begins.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney is implementing a number of safety measures there as part of its plan to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


During Phases I, II and III of the university’s fall operating plan, UNK Dining won’t offer self-serve, buffet-style meals in The Market @ 27th dining hall. Instead, UNK Dining employees will serve guests, and prepackaged items will replace the salad bar.

UNK Dining is also offering to-go meals at a counter inside the Ponderosa Room.

“Students will still receive the same great service, great food and great value with their meal plans, it’s just going to be delivered in a different way,” said Michael Christen, director of business services at UNK.

Christen noted that the new service style allows students to create custom plates by selecting individual items that match their taste.

Michael Christen

“One of Sodexo’s goals is to move toward that type of service style to increase the quality and value for students,” he said. “It’s more of the Sodexo way compared to what we’ve had in the past.”

Sodexo has been UNK’s dining services provider since May 2019.

Tables inside The Market @ 27th are spaced at least 6 feet apart, and Ponderosa Rooms A and B will also be used as dining areas to promote social distancing. Each table will be limited to four people during Phase I of UNK’s fall plan, with one- and two-person seating available.

UNK Dining employees will sanitize each table before they’re ready for use and indicate their availability using signs. Sodexo plans to use disposable containers until Phase III of UNK’s fall plan, allowing the company to place an increased emphasis on sanitization.

Foot traffic in dining areas will flow in one direction to decrease crowding, and UNK Facilities Management and Planning installed larger plastic barriers along the serving lines.

Students, employees and campus visitors are required to wear face coverings when entering the dining areas and ordering. They can be removed while eating.

UNK is requiring students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear face coverings in all shared spaces on campus during Phases I and II of its fall operating plan. This includes classrooms, labs, studios, common areas such as the student union and offices where people work within 6 feet of each other.

The university’s fall plan includes three phases, with Phase I starting Friday. At the end of each two-week period, UNK’s emergency operations team will review COVID-19 case numbers to determine whether campus should remain at the current phase, advance to the next phase or revert to a previous phase.


The Antelope Bookstore in UNK’s Nebraskan Student Union has several safety measures in place to protect customers and the campus community this fall, including limiting the number of people allowed in the store at one time. (Photo by Todd Gottula, UNK Communications)

The Antelope Bookstore also has measures in place to protect customers and the campus community.

During Phase I of the fall plan, a maximum of 10 customers are allowed in the bookstore at a time. This number increases to 25 customers in Phase II and 50 in Phase III.

Students are encouraged to purchase their textbooks through the Antelope Bookstore’s website. The textbook section of the bookstore is restricted to employees only during Phases I and II. Staff will assist students who need to purchase textbooks.

Clothing and apparel displays are spread out to reduce crowding.


Students, employees and guests visiting the Nebraskan Student Union will notice other changes as soon as they walk in the building.

Designated entry and exit doors will be marked with signs, and floor decals and stanchion barriers will direct traffic and promote social distancing in high-traffic areas, including the Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Subway retail spaces. The Grid store is limited to seven customers at a time.

“These changes will require some patience from our students and staff, but we’re confident we can continue to meet the campus community’s needs while making safety our top priority,” Christen said.

Meeting and conference rooms were also reconfigured to allow for physical distancing, and maximum capacities are indicated on signage.

Tables throughout the student union are spaced at least 6 feet apart, and staff will regularly disinfect tables and other high-touch surfaces. Cleaning supplies will be available for students, as well.

Like the dining areas, tables that are disinfected and ready for use will be marked with signs.

New students and employees can use an online option to submit a photo for their UNK ID, and student groups are encouraged to provide a virtual option for meetings.

Nebraskan Student Union leadership will meet weekly to discuss policies and procedures related to COVID-19.


The Java Notes coffee shop, located in the Fine Arts Building, will remain closed until spacing and operational requirements related to COVID-19 can be met.

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