Staff, students discuss the challenges of enforcing COVID-19 protocols in the VM

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Written by: Patrick McGraw

Southern has made a number of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect the welfare of its students and faculty. Among the places where these changes are felt are in the eateries on campus.

In the cafeteria, students sit at tables, separated by transparent dividers of acrylic glass. At KR’s Place, they eat at socially distanced tables where seating is limited. At both of these eateries, students are also required to wear a wristband. However, there is one exception to this rule — the Village Market (VM) does not have a staff member checking for wristbands at the door; it functions as both an eatery and a grocery store for both students and community members.

“Here at Village Market, we follow Southern’s COVID policy in regards to social distancing and mask wearing,” VM Manager Jackie Rose said. “Because we are unique in that we serve not only students but the whole community, enforcing Southern’s policy can be challenging. If a customer comes in without a mask, we give them a complimentary disposable mask from the service desk. We put up plexiglass shields in several locations and have posted policy signage on the front doors and around the store.” 

Junior public relations major Elise Deschamps said she understands both the concern and reasoning behind not enforcing wristbands at the VM.

“Honestly, because the VM is more of a grocery store that is open to the public, I don’t expect them to actually enforce the wristband rule,” Deschamps said. “While I can understand why there would be concern in regards to students or faculty or people not having to have wristbands to go to the VM, I also understand that it’s literally a grocery store to the local community, and they’re not going to go ahead and get a wristband before they go to the grocery store.”

Sophomore biology major Trevor Paden said although he has concerns about safety, he appreciates the convenience of not having to wear a wristband at the VM.

“I don’t think it’s safe, but when I’m lazy and it’s 6 a.m., I like it,” Paden said. “I like grabbing Asian food from the VM and eating it in my room. It’s the safest way to eat, plus I can watch TV then.” 

For safety measures, Paden suggested that the VM could have a temperature check station at the entrance.

Junior fine arts major Danny Perez said although he understands why the VM is not requiring patrons to wear a wristband, he is concerned about transmission.

“I get that it’s a grocery store and they can’t just require everyone to wear wristbands.  But at the same time, literally anybody can walk in there,” Perez said. “It’s hard to know if someone might have COVID without testing them, especially if it’s a random person walking in from off-campus.”

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