Masks, 800 gallons of hand sanitizer and plexiglass: WSU stocking up to reopen safely



Wichita State Facilities Services is shipping “safety starter kits” with masks and other supplies to departments and offices across campus. Masks will be required for students, faculty and staff whenever they interact with one another.

As campus prepares to reopen Tuesday, Wichita State Facilities Services has provided at least 80 “safety starter kits” to dozens of departments and offices in order to help them comply with safety guidelines. 

The kits include masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, cleaning supplies, and blue painter’s tape for marking floors and hanging signs.

Departments that are currently operating were given priority, followed by departments that will resume operations once campus reopens. 

“The initial orders of the starter kits are intended to get people coming back … through the first week or two on campus,” said Bob Smith, executive director of Facilities Services. 

As more staff return to campus, departments will be able to order supplemental supplies through the existing work-order system and receive them that day. 

“Most people on campus are very familiar with that,” Smith said. “It’s how the original requests have come in, so it’s just a matter of doing a process that people understand. If you had a leaking roof, or lights were out, or a door wasn’t working, it’s the same work order request format.”

Many of the cleaning products came from a stock in the Facilities warehouse, so the department simply doubled the minimum amount to have on-hand for the next couple of months, Smith said.  

Other items were harder to track down. 

The athletics department helped Facilities locate a vendor for hand sanitizer, Smith said. They ordered 800 gallons. 

And GoCreate, a creative studio collaborative on WSU’s Innovation Campus, is supplying cloth face coverings for campus employees. The makerspace has already partnered with local businesses to give more than 10,000 face coverings to medical facilities.

The cloth masks will be limited to one per person, but Facilities also has a standing order for disposable masks, so departments can offer them to employees or campus visitors that do not have their own masks. 

Physical plant workers have also installed more than 288 plexiglass shields at public-facing locations around campus. Facilities stayed operational through the stay-at-home order, Smith said, and began working at full capacity again last week. 


The Flats are a private apartment complex on Wichita State’s Innovation Campus. Students staying on campus this summer will live at the building. (FILE PHOTO/TANAT MAICHAN)

Student Housing

Housing and Residential Life is one of the few departments that continued minimal operations through the campus shutdown.

A small number of students were approved to continue living on campus for the rest of the spring semester after the “mass move-out” on March 22, Associate Dean of Students Scott Jensen said. 

“We approved them because they did not have a good option to go home or stay somewhere else,” Jensen said. “A large number of the folks are international students, but some of them are students who don’t feel good about going home because of the state they live in, or people at home [who] might have compromised health issues if they were to go home, and they didn’t want to impact them negatively.”

Facilities delivered disposable masks to HRL early on, Jensen said, and continues to provide supplies as needed. 

Unlike other campus departments, though, HRL is responsible for its own custodial work. The in-house custodial team provided each HRL office with a spray bottle, cleaning solutions and rags.

Over the summer, only about 40 students have been approved to remain in campus housing, all of whom are “individuals who have nowhere else to go, or are basically stuck here,” Jensen said. 

A typical summer sees around 100 students living on campus. 

The small number of residents— and six resident assistants who volunteered to stay onboard through the summer— will live in the Flats, leaving Shocker Hall all but empty. 

Custodial teams will still clean the entryway and main office at Shocker Hall regularly, Jensen said, but the primary focus will be on daily sanitizing in the common areas at the Flats. 

“We’ve been open, so we’ve been focusing on our current students,” Jensen said, “but now we’re spending a lot of time planning for August, when we anticipate many more students coming back and living with us, and making sure that we’re setting things up appropriately for them, so that they feel safe and comfortable as they enter into the community here.”


Students study in the Ablah Library on March 23. The library is set to reopen Tuesday.
Students study in the Ablah Library on March 23. The library is set to reopen Tuesday. (FILE PHOTO/SELENA FAVELA)


University Libraries will reopen with limited hours on Tuesday. The first floor of Ablah Library will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Special Collections access will be available by appointment only. 

Visitors will be required to wear masks at all times, per WSU’s campus-wide policy. The library has some disposable masks set aside for visitors who come in without one. 

The circulation staff has been working for two weeks to rearrange the first floor of Ablah Library in accordance with physical distancing guidelines, Associate Dean Ginger Williams said. 

“We’ve been using lots of tape measures, and we’ve been working up a sweat moving tables and chairs around,” Williams said. “There’s a lot less furniture here now– we’ve moved it to the other floors.”

Gate counters will be used to track how many people are in the building, and library staff will keep a close watch for groups larger than 10. 

“It’s going to be easy to see if there’s crowds because we only have one floor of the library open, and we can keep our eyes on that,” Williams said. “ Of course, chairs are still movable, but the way we have them now, it really encourages people to be spread apart.”

Most services regularly offered by the library will still be available, though some changes have been made. Visitors looking for items from the upper floors will need to ask a staff member to pull them off the shelf. The reference library and librarian-led workshops and classes have been moved online for the time being. 

“This is a very flexible situation, but we’re trying our best to provide everything we can,” Williams said. “If we’ve missed something a student needs, just let us know and we’ll figure out how to make it work.”