As Fort Lewis College students have had to adjust to campus life with COVID-19, the staff has had to adapt and overcome this virus as well.
Along with COVID-19 changing how the 2020 fall semester would work, budget cuts hit FLC and caused the administration to lay off staff members over the summer.
Without the FLC staff constantly working for the students, this semester would not have been possible.
Vickie Albrecht: Postal Manager
Vickie Albrecht is the Postal Manager for Fort Lewis College and has been for 27 years.
Albrecht supervises the mail room team and makes sure that the mail is sorted correctly and that students get their mail as soon as possible.
COVID-19 has greatly affected the mail room this semester as they have lost one full time staff member, and had to cut down the amount of work-study students from 16 to eight, Albrecht said.
Along with Albrecht’s normal roles as the postal manager, she also has had to pick up work, such as sorting mail that would normally be handled by staff the post office has lost, Albrecht said.
Albrecht’s goal is to have students mail in their mail boxes every week day by 10 a.m.
Due to COVID-19 affecting not only the mail room on FLC’s campus but the Durango post office, who delivers mail to campus everyday, it has made it much more challenging to deliver student’s mail on time, Albrecht said.
As part of the mail room’s efforts to deliver mail safely, the entire team is constantly sanitizing hands and practicing social distancing, Albrecht said.
COVID-19 affecting delivery times is just a part of the challenges the mail room has faced. The virus has created a massive influx of mail.
This influx of mail comes from students being shipped more items from home than any previous year, said Albrecht.
“It’s not like any other year we’ve had” said Albrecht.
Andrew McGary: Dining Room Supervisor
Andrew McGary is the FLC Dining Room Supervisor and has been working for FLC for a year and a half.
As COVID-19 made its way to the campus of FLC, the dining hall was forced to make changes.
What was once an all you can eat buffet style dining hall has turned into primarily to grab and go meals.
Along with the change of style, staff members roles were forced to change as well.
Although COVID-19 has minimized social interactions, the staff has become closer to the students due to the new system of grab and go meals.
This new system allows for more interaction with students, compared to prior years when staff members were tasked with working a buffet style and were less hands-on with those who came into the dining hall, McGary said.
The dining hall staff are asked to constantly sanitize counters and workstations as well as enforcing the 6-foot social distancing rule on top of creating the to-go plates, McGary said.
“The dining hall closing has affected some of the staff’s hours,” McGary said.
Due to the closing of the actual sit down space in the San Juan Dining Hall, caused by an increase in COVID-19 cases on campus and in the community of Durango, two daytime staff members were laid off until next year and student staff will be cut down as well, McGary said.
The dining hall staff are committed to their jobs and serving the students despite the COVID-19 restrictions and recent transition to on-line classes disrupting the campus further.
“If there's students on campus, we’re going to feed them, that’s part of our role as providing the service,” McGary said.
Allison Flores: Director of Skyhawk Station
Allison Flores is the Director of Skyhawk Station and has been with FLC since 2013, she said.
Arguably the most affected group by budget cuts and COVID-19, is the advising team, Flores said.
The advising team has undergone fundamental changes in daily operations, Flores said.
All advising has moved into Skyhawk Station from Berndt Hall this semester, Flores said.
Part of this transition was in an effort to centralize aspects of student life, such as advising, finance, and registration to help students navigate more effectively during the pandemic, Flores said.
Following this transition to Skyhawk Station, advising meetings were being held in-person and over Zoom, Flores said.
A decrease in staff has caused advisors to take on a larger workload in advising students based on specific major groupings, but has been managed rather well due to the willingness of faculty in being a part of the advising process, Flores said.
“All divisions of campus faculty have been a great help in the advising process,” Flores said.
With FLC returning to all on-line instruction as of Nov.10, Skyhawk Station and the advising team have been forced to move on-line as well, Flores said.
Assisting in this transition to all on-line, all departments on campus, as well as plans designed for advising to move on-line if needed, have been instrumental to the speed needed to provide students with the support they need.
“The advising team and entirety of Skyhawk Station are going to continue working hard to give students the support they need, and hope we can return to campus in the Spring and build off of what the Fall semester was,” Flores said.