Last semester, campus dining halls operated under COVID-19 precautions, which did not allow students to dine in-person or serve themselves. In order to comply with these restrictions, students were provided with a green to-go box upon entry into the dining halls.
Gwyn Scott, associate vice president for auxiliaries, said dining halls will have an in-person dining option this semester. Additionally, according to OU’s website, the majority of Culinary Services’ locations will be open for the Fall Semester.
“It is our plan to return to pre-COVID operations, and as such, there will be a variety of seating styles in each venue,” Scott said in an email.
With the return to normal dining hall operations, Tara Theaker, a sophomore studying psychology, said she understands how some students may be concerned with in-person dining options this semester.
“There will be mass crowding in the dining halls,” Theaker said. “People won't be wearing masks when eating, so I know that'll probably make some people anxious or cause some problems maybe with the new variant.”
Additionally, Emily Mcvicker, a senior studying applied nutrition and public health who worked within culinary services in the past, said in an email that “it’s going to be a lot more stressful and require more prep as well as clean up … but hopefully more enjoyable.”
Despite the numerous COVID-19 precautions last semester, Theaker said she enjoyed having the opportunity to take her food to-go.
“I kinda liked I could just grab it really quick and leave and go eat wherever with my friends,” Theaker said. “I couldn't get seconds or actually get to have the college experience of sitting in a dining hall.”
To-go options will also be available this semester; however, Scott said students who do not already have a green to-go container must pay $5 for a new one.
Despite potential concerns with returning to normal dining options, Scott said Culinary Services has been working on preparing employees for the upcoming semester.
“We are currently recruiting, hiring, and scheduling team members to deliver excellent customer experiences,” Scott said in an email. “We are quite busy preparing to reopen our venues and welcome our Bobcats to the Fall Semester!”
After experiencing the dining halls under COVID-19 precautions during the Spring Semester, Theaker said she is excited to experience the dining halls under normal circumstances.
“I hope to see that they don't shut it down, so that we can't eat inside there anymore,” Theaker said. “I get to see all the other students that live near my dorm eating in there and it's kind of fun because you get to see some familiar faces. I hope they keep doing that.”