One year later, recognizing Baylor’s unsung heroes through the pandemic
For a year now, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown challenges at virtually every aspect of Baylor’s approach to education. Thankfully, countless individuals across campus have worked tirelessly for the past year to ensure Baylor could continue serving and loving its students.
After years of doing things a certain way, faculty reworked classes overnight to allow for remote and hybrid learning. Students have admirably rolled with the punches as restrictions were put in place to keep the entire campus as safe and healthy as possible. But those aren’t the only ones who have sacrificed to keep Baylor going; here are five of the pandemic’s unsung heroes:
Library and Academic Technology Services — The sudden shift to remote instruction and telework left many faculty/staff and students unsure of how to continue their responsibilities. Fortunately, Baylor Library & Academic Technology Services (LATS) knew just how to support our Bears.
When campus was sent home last spring, LATS was able to negotiate expanded access to online programs (like Zoom, Adobe Creative Cloud and library databases) so Bears could use them on their personal devices. Then before in-person classes resumed (and hybrid classes were launched) last fall, LATS equipped classrooms with the technology needed to stream and record lectures — upgrading 250+ classrooms in just two months. The team increased laptop checkout availability for students who couldn’t access shared computers, and responded to exponentially elevated help requests. Then, as normalcy began to return this spring and public spaces started to open up for small groups, LATS deployed Occuspace (a service that calculates and displays current occupancy levels) in Moody and Jones libraries to help students know what public spaces were available.
Baylor Dining Services — Aside from adhering to capacity requirements and safety procedures set by the CDC, Baylor Dining Services made valuable changes to keep campus fed.
Each dining hall implemented a mobile ordering platform, allowing students to place orders and pick up without waiting in line. They also increased and revamped meal options available in the Grab-N-Go program, another way to avoid long lines and still get a healthy snack. When students were required to quarantine due to COVID-19, the Catering team was able to deliver fresh, daily meals to their isolation areas. And, to offer a bit of normalcy, Dining Services found a way to keep Dr Pepper Hour a weekly tradition when students returned in the fall by distributing pre-packed Dr Pepper Floats.
Baylor Counseling Center — Life can be stressful at any time, but the effects of the pandemic certainly amplified the need to care for our mental health — and the Baylor Counseling Center (BUCC) stepped up.
When students were sent home last spring, BUCC quickly launched several services that could help our Bears while they were away: telehealth appointments, free introductory phone/video counseling sessions, and access to Self-Help TAO, a free, online platform for mental health. They also put together an online toolbox offering tips and resources to help students cope with the stress, anxiety and depression brought on by the pandemic. All of these resources continue to serve our students near and far.
The Store — Though many entities on campus altered operations, The Store kept its doors open.
This on-campus food pantry, located in the Paul L. Foster Success Center, has continued to provide nutritious food, free-of-cost, to students facing food insecurity on our campus. Even during the historic winter storm that hit Waco earlier this spring, staff kept The Store going — and when their inventory started to run dry, the Baylor Family jumped into help restock for those in need.
Custodial and facilities staff — Last, but certainly not least, we must recognize our dedicated and hard-working custodial and facilities staff.
Their consistent and diligent efforts have kept classrooms sanitized (after each class!), common spaces clean, and facilities running at their best — even as spaces were used for new purposes (intro classes taught in Waco Hall! music performance classes taught in portable spaces across campus!), all amidst a sea of plexiglass barriers.
Sic ’em, Baylor heroes!