A look inside: The Journal tours Victoria Hall & Leonard Dining Hall ahead of move-in

COVID-19 changes residence, dining operations

Queen’s will only operate 10 of its 17 residence buildings in the fall semester.
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The Journal toured Victoria Hall and Leonard Dining Hall on Friday morning to see how COVID-19 will change traditional operations in the fall term. 

Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs; Leah Wales, executive director of housing and ancillary services; Julie Brown, media relations officer; and Mark Erdman, community relations manager, were available during the tour to answer questions.   

Dining Halls

This fall, all three of Queen’s dining halls will be open—but they’ll look a little different.

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Directional signage has been placed in the entrance to Leonard Hall to ensure foot traffic aligns with physical distancing guidelines. Once inside the hall, students will sign in and sanitize before finding a seat.

In Leonard Hall, the traditional capacity of 700 visitors has been reduced to 100. At the dining hall’s entrances and exits, attendants will track capacity to ensure no more than 100 students are eating at any given time. 

Hours of operation will remain the same for all three dining halls. 

Wales told The Journal that, when it comes to seating, the University is encouraging students to abide by the household model proposed earlier in the summer. 

“That’s our preference, but we recognize that there will be flexibility, and that’s why we’ve also maintained [physical] distancing,” Wales said.

READ MORE: Residence to offer ‘household model’ in the fall to limit contact between students

Beginning in September, students will have take-out options for dining cafeterias, a feature that wasn’t available in previous years. 

There will no longer be self-serve options in dining halls—all foods will be premade. 

Plexiglass has been installed in all service areas in the dining hall, including the soup station. The floor has also been marked to physically distance those waiting in line. 

No specific restriction has been placed on how much time students can spend inside the dining hall while eating.

“We’re asking people to try and be reasonably quick,” Wales said. 

Additional sanitization stations have been installed throughout the dining hall. While there will be enhanced cleaning procedures in both the dining halls and residence buildings, students will also have the tools to sanitize eating and studying areas themselves to ensure maximum comfort. 

“All of the students will also be given cleaning kits of their own in residence,” Tierney said. “We’ll have enhanced cleaning, but we know students themselves will want to do some of their own.”

Similar to restaurant operations, students will be required to wear a mask inside the dining halls until seated. 

“That’s the expectation, that students will be masked in any common area,” Wales said.

Tierney said that, in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, the University will work closely with Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health to manage it. 

“We’ll ensure that any student who, if for any reason we have to shut down a dining hall [which] they can’t access, we’ll ensure alternative meal delivery for students,” Tierney said. 

Wales also confirmed that any student in self-isolation will have meals delivered to them. 

Residence

Queen’s will only operate 10 of its 17 residence buildings in the fall semester.

In Victoria Hall, signage has been placed on the doors to indicate mask usage is mandatory. Plexiglass has been installed at the service desk, and the common room has reduced its capacity by two thirds. 

Similar to the dining halls, directional signage has also been implemented on the floors of Victoria Hall to ensure alignment with physical distancing guidelines.

No student will be sharing a room in any of the residence buildings this fall. In Victoria Hall, traditionally double bedrooms have been converted into single rooms. Common space areas also have reduced capacity and seating areas.

Specific bedrooms have also been assigned to specific washrooms in Victoria Hall, so no more than three students will have usage of the same facilities. 

Move-in to residence will be staggered over five days, beginning on Sept. 1 and ending on Sept. 5. Remote check-in and key pick-up will be available at Richardson stadium.

While the University prepared space for 2,300 students to occupy residences in the fall, Tierney confirmed just under 2,000 students will be in residence this year. While there will be no upper-year volunteers for move-in, incoming students will be allowed to bring two people to help them move in.

While some international students are already self-isolating on campus, Tierney said the University is strongly encouraging domestic students to limit their contact with others for 14 days upon arrival to campus.

READ MORE: University expects just 6,600 students to be on campus in fall term

Regarding any travel during holidays like Thanksgiving and the winter break, Tierney said the University is encouraging students to reduce any unnecessary travel outside Kingston.

“Of course, we’re balancing that with understanding that students may get lonely and have families,” Tierney said. “We don’t want to make that problematic for them, but we’re asking them to be thoughtful and careful about their travel.”

Again, Tierney said the University will encourage students returning from travel outside of Kingston during holidays to limit physical contact for 14 days.

The JDUC and David C. Smith buildings have both been set aside for isolation in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. Tierney said rooms in the buildings have been prepped for occupancy, but no one will be assigned to them unless they are self-isolating.

Wales could not confirm whether the new residence and dining operations will remain the same for the winter term, but said that, at this point, the University expects they will be maintained for the entire year.

“We’re not expecting much to change in terms of operations,” she said.

READ MORE: Will first-year students be remote in the winter term? Provost says yes, with some exceptions

Regarding residence, Wales said the current model will stay in place for the year. 

“All along, we’ve said to the students who applied in the beginning, if you’re only interested in winter only, tell us that and we’ll hold you and figure out what we can do,” she said. “That all happened prior to the announcement about [the] Arts and Science [faculty] being remote only, so we need to circle back with all of those folks and determine what their interest is.”

Wales added that, at this point, the only students who might have in-person classes in the winter term are engineers.

“But that’s still very much in progress, determining what the winter academic requirements will be,” she said. 

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