Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in On-campus Housing and Dining

Published On: May 27, 2020

In alignment with public health recommendations, the Michigan State University Division of Residential and Hospitality Services (RHS) is taking measures to prevent community spread of COVID-19, which includes enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures.

These new procedures ensure the health and safety of our team members and residents by reducing the potential for COVID-19 spread. It is the division’s top priority to ensure facilities are clean, safe and provide a healthy environment.

Keeping Team Members Healthy

RHS team members are required to submit a daily health screening when they arrive to the workplace. They are asked if they have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 or have had close contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19. If they answer yes, team members are asked to return home and contact their primary care physician. These daily health screenings will continue indefinitely.

All RHS team members have also been provided cloth face coverings. These are currently required as part of the daily uniform.

RHS Health and Safety Coordinator Joe Petroff emphasized the importance of safety during this time, saying, “RHS is committed to the safety and well-being of our team members, guests and residents we serve. By strictly following federal, state and local guidelines, which include daily health screenings, use of cloth face coverings, and increased schedules for cleaning and disinfection, we hope to further mitigate and control the spread of COVID-19 in our Spartan community.”

Team members continue to adhere to social distancing best practices. Additional measures to encourage social distancing have been and continue to be implemented, including modifying meeting spaces to limit capacity, staggering shifts, restricting in-person meetings to 10 people or fewer while maintaining a 6-foot distance, and minimizing the number of people in a work area at the same time.

Keeping Residents and Guests Healthy

The Residence Education and Housing Services (REHS) team is addressing COVID-19 with students by educating them on the importance of the community working together to stop the spread.   

Associate Director for REHS Coree Newman Coronado explained further, saying, “REHS is working to keep our students and team members informed on how to keep themselves safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing and the use of cloth face coverings are two practices that we have been reinforcing in our communities through community meetings, signs and electronic messages. We also have practices in place to get students connected to resources should they start to experience symptoms or need support.”

Guests of all dining and retail operations are required to wear cloth face coverings. Residential dining has also eliminated cash options and will only accept meal plans, Spartan Cash, debit or credit cards to reduce the need to transfer currency between guest and team members. Installation of Plexiglass sneeze guards at point-of-sale and host stands has begun to place additional distance between guests and cashiers.

Social distancing protocols have been implemented in the dining halls, including table spacing, floor graphics and line queuing. Floor graphics are also being installed at Service Desks in the residence halls.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

The REHS Facilities team developed and implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures for residential and dining facilities to follow. These cleaning and disinfection protocols are based upon nationally accepted practices for responding to COVID-19 as well as those outlined in the MSU COVID-19 Non-Healthcare Facility Cleaning guidelines.

The RHS program has two levels of cleaning protocols that have been used for the past several years within its units. Level one is intended for routine cleaning and sanitizing of spaces, which are not suspect for COVID-19, to help decrease the spread of infectious agents that cause routine cold and flu illness. RHS uses stabilized aqueous ozone as a broad-spectrum daily cleaning and sanitizing. Level two is intended to disinfect highly touched surfaces. Both levels of cleaning protocols are currently being used.

RHS currently uses high-level disinfectant products approved for the disinfection of SARS COVID-19 and included on the EPA List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. Below is a table of common, but not all, frequently touched surfaces:

Frequently Touched Surfaces

  • Doorknobs & Handles
  • Drinking Fountains
  • Restroom Dispensers
  • Door Push Plates & Crash Bars
  • Telephones
  • Restroom Partitions & Latches
  • Light Switches
  • Classroom Desks and Tables
  • Restroom Fixtures
  • Elevator Buttons
  • Meeting Room Tables
  • Toilet, Faucet & Urinal Handles
  • Handrails
  • Classroom & Meeting Room Chair Arms
  • Keyboards

Culinary Services

Increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols are also taking place in the dining facilities. Dining halls are closed from 2-5 p.m. to allow for additional cleaning and transition of team members. The halls are staffed with team members dedicated to cleaning and sanitizing seating areas. The standard cleaner (QC 54 Peroxide Glass Cleaner) has been replaced with Peroxide Multi-Surface Disinfectant, which is EPA-approved as effective against COVID-19.

Executive Director of Culinary Services Rebecca Selesky shared her thoughts of support, saying, “During this time, as we practice safety and social distancing, we are keeping all Spartan families in our thoughts and taking steps to maintain the highest level of sanitation protocols in our operations to ensure the safety of our team members and our guests.”

All menu items have converted to grab-and-go style and are distributed with single-use disposable silverware and individually packed condiment containers. Grab-and-go options have been added to the menus within residential dining and retail dining. Self-serve areas have been converted to fully served, including all service ware, condiments and beverages.

Moving Forward

As the Division of RHS looks to the fall semester and beyond, it does so with the safety of all individuals at the forefront. Numerous task forces are in place planning for various scenarios the coming months may bring, and RHS leaders continue to follow the guidance of public health officials as well as university leaders and partners. Although this new reality continues to hold a degree of uncertainty, RHS will continue to show up each day ready to provide a safe and positive campus experience for all.