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VCU adds PPE vending machines stocked with masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Virginia Commonwealth University has begun to place vending machines stocked with personal protection equipment like masks, hand sanitizer, and soon, wipes.

Capital News Service

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By Brandon Shillingford

Students returning to campus this fall will find vending machines stocked full of snacks, sodas, and now personal protective equipment too.

The machines located throughout Richmond-based Virginia Commonwealth University are filled with masks and hand sanitizer and soon, wipes. The supplies are available to students and employees for free, with a once a month limit. Individuals choose what they need and swipe their VCUCard to dispense a product.

VCU officials said they started planning preventative measures months ago to help keep students safe.

“In March, we started out at ground zero,” said Richard Sliwoski, associate vice president of facilities management at VCU. “We had to get things here to make sure we could get folks on campus safely.”

The first solution was to hand out starter supply kits with masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. The university’s next question was what to do when the kits became empty.

VCU then contacted W.W. Grainger Inc., an industrial supply company with vending machines already on campus, about acquiring more machines for masks and hand sanitizer. The process was easy since the university already has a contract with the Lake Forest, Illinois-based company, Sliwoski said.

“There is no cost to us for the machines,” Sliwoski said. “They provide all our parts for all of the fixes, faucets, whatever, we source it through them.”

Out of a handful of Virginia colleges CNS contacted, only George Mason University confirmed by publication that it also dispenses masks and sanitizer through vending machines. But across the nation, other universities are adding such vending to campuses, as are airports and cities.

Students at VCU said they were pleased with the new machines but questioned how effective they can be if no one knows about them.

“I’m glad they have these as an extra option for those who are running out of hand sanitizer and stuff because it’s clear they have plenty,” said VCU junior Travis Krickovic. “It’s a really good measure to just make sure everyone has the PPE they need, I’m just wondering and really hope everyone knows about it.”

VCU freshman Mary Dorra appreciates the efforts the university is taking but wonders if more safety practices are needed to keep students safe.

 “It makes me feel safer. I’m not sure if it’s enough but at this point I don’t really know what else you can do,” she said about the new machines. “You could do more temperature checks outside of classes and things like that but even then you could be asymptomatic, so that might not do much.”

There are 10 machines at VCU. Five are located on the Medical College of Virginia Campus in the Tompkins-McCaw Library and the Mcguire Hall and Annex, and the Hunton, Larrick and McGlothlin Medical Education centers. The other five reside on the Monroe Park Campus in Snead Hall, the T. Edward Temple Building, James Branch Cabell Library, VCU Student Commons, and the Bowe Street Parking Deck.

Grainger said it provides the machines as part of a wider agreement with VCU but did not disclose the contract amount when asked.

VCU also has put tape or signs on seats to diminish capacity in dining areas to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Common spaces also indicate where to stand in line or sit at a table.

As of Thursday, there are 97 active cases of COVID-19 at VCU, according to the university’s dashboard. The university is reporting 49 new cases this week and 191 total.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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U of R announces socially distant service opportunities and virtual events in honor of MLK Day

Virtual events, such as luncheons and meditation sessions, are slated to take place on Zoom throughout the week in order to bring the campus community together to pause, reflect, and discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King and what it means to heal.

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The University of Richmond has announced it will be closed Monday, January 18th to allow the campus community to engage in physically-distanced service activities celebrating MLK Day.

Historically, UR celebrates the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through a day filled with service opportunities completed alongside the greater Richmond community. Due to COVID-19, this year’s MLK Day events will foster opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to volunteer virtually by working on project kits developed by the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. The kits entail projects such as transcribing documents from the Library of Virginia; creating birthday cards for Celebrate! RVA; making toys for the ASPCA; writing letters to elected officials; and more.

The community will also have the opportunity to use the Book Arts Studio’s printing press on MLK Day, to create book art and journals that align with this year’s theme, “The Revolution Then And Now: A Time of Healing.”

Virtual events, such as luncheons and meditation sessions, are slated to take place on Zoom throughout the week in order to bring the campus community together to pause, reflect, and discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King and what it means to heal.

“In the wake of two pandemics — COVID-19 and social injustice — we’re encouraging our community to reflect on what it will mean to heal as we look to the future and explore the ways that we can better impact the lives of those in our community and beyond who experience social injustices and are fighting their own individual revolution,” said Morgan Russell, associate director of multicultural affairs and event organizer.

Full details about UR’s MLK Day celebration are available at richmond.edu/mlk.

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RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras Statement on Trump Riot in DC

“Yesterday’s events were horrific. But rather than run from them, let’s confront them and the uncomfortable truths about race that they laid bare.”

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The Superintendent of Richmond schools, Jason Kamras, issued a strong statement yesterday in the aftermath of Wednesday’s attack at the nation’s Capitol.

Dear #RPSStrong Family,

As many others have noted over the past 24 hours, one of the most striking aspects of yesterday’s events was how law enforcement responded to the overwhelmingly white insurrectionists, as compared to how they responded to BLM protestors of color in Lafayette Park in DC this past summer.

Yesterday, mostly white men seized and vandalized the United States Capitol – and were then allowed to simply walk away.
Last summer, peaceful, mostly Black protestors, who had gathered a block away from the White House to make their voices heard, were gassed and forcibly removed with military tactics, including the use of a US Army helicopter. I shudder at the thought of what would have transpired if the individuals who attacked the United States Congress were Black.

As educators and parents, we need to talk about this with our children. And those of us who are white have a special responsibility to do so. For our national “reckoning” on race to yield tangible results, we must actively and repeatedly call out inequity, educate our children about it, and teach them to uproot it.

Yesterday’s events were horrific. But rather than run from them, let’s confront them and the uncomfortable truths about race that they laid bare. In doing so, perhaps we can take one more step towards fulfilling the ideals symbolized by the United States Capitol.

With great appreciation,
Jason

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Four UR Students Awarded Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad in England, Jamaica, China, France, and Switzerland in 2021

The University of Richmond has had 47 Gilman Scholars since the program started in 2001.

RVAHub Staff

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Four University of Richmond students have been offered Gilman scholarships to support their study abroad experiences in 2021. Students will complete their experiences based on travel conditions and program adjustments in line with the global pandemic.

The latest Gilman recipients include:

  • Hannah Hald, a sophomore from Powhatan, Virginia. Hald intends to complete the award in China.
  • Marie “Mako” Inasaridze a junior from Lorton, Virginia. Inasaridze is majoring in global studies and intends to complete the award in France.
  • Eva Kemal, a junior from Woodbridge, Virginia. Kemal is double majoring in leadership studies and healthcare studies and intends to complete the award in England and Jamaica.
  • Nicky Ramirez, a sophomore from North Bergen, New Jersey. Ramirez is double majoring in biology and Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Studies and intends to complete the award in Switzerland.

Additionally, Morgan Malstead, a junior from Stanton, Kentucky, has been named an alternate and may receive an award at a later date.

“Even in the face of global travel restrictions, UR students and our Office of International Education are finding innovative ways to make study abroad possible. The Gilman’s recognition of these Richmond students is a testament to their dedication to becoming global citizens,” said Dana Kuchem, director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships.

More than 65 percent of University of Richmond students complete a study abroad experience before graduating.

University of Richmond has had 47 Gilman Scholars since the program started in 2001.

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