Since students have moved onto the University of Richmond campus, the UR Post Office has faced new challenges caused by COVID-19 and has made adjustments to follow UR guidelines while also keeping customers pleased.
Post Office Supervisor Timothy Dorsey is the person in charge of the post office's workers and policies. He has been working through COVID-19 and the new changes that have occurred within the mailroom.
“[COVID-19] has impacted us a great deal, because we are seeing an influx of a lot of items you normally wouldn’t order for your dorm room,” Dorsey said. “A lot of people are trying to condense things into one large package instead of multiple smaller ones.”
The increase of items related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as masks and cleaning supplies, on top of the basic parcels students receive each year caused the number of items the post office receives to skyrocket, Dorsey said. In August, the mailroom processed more than 12,000 items, whereas the usual monthly average is around 8,000, Dorsey said.
“[COVID-19] has slowed down our processing time because whereas in the past where we would have multiple people processing, we have to socially distance now, so we can’t have as many people processing,” Dorsey said.
On top of receiving many packages each day, the post office has also had to make adjustments to how items are processed in order to follow UR COVID-19 guidelines, Dorsey said. The post office's hours are now 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday, whereas in previous years the post office had remained open until 5 p.m., according to the UR website. All weekend hours have also been eliminated.
The decrease in the number of people able to work together at any given time has caused post office student employees’ hours to be cut back from last year, Dorsey said.
Two post office student employees, junior Maggie Larkin and senior Noah Larson, said that although there were definite changes behind the scenes, they had not been severely impacted by the new protocols the post office followed.
“Honestly, [protocols] have really only changed the way things operate at the window and the cleanliness,” Larkin said. “We have a new essentially touch-less system where people swipe their own cards so as to minimize the amount of contact between the workers and students.”
This new touchless system allows students to swipe their SpiderCard at the front of the mailroom to see whether they have any packages to pick up, Dorsey said. It eliminates students having to stand in line if there is nothing for them to pick up, he said.
Now that the first few weeks of school have passed, it has become easier to work with the new kiosk and processing system at the post office, Larson said.
Sophomore Sarah Cramer has been one of many students who have worked with the new kiosk.
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"It’s very convenient to swipe first and see if you have packages instead of waiting in line to find out what's there," Cramer said. "I think the new system is great and definitely more effective."
Larkin and Larson both also mentioned the noticeable increase in sanitation within the post office. Both have become warier of their personal cleanliness they said, washing their hands after touching packages. The items received are shipped from countless places and they are unable to know who they were handled by, Larkin said.
With all the changes being made, not only in the post office but also all around campus, Dorsey hopes that people are mindful of the changes being made in everyone’s lives, he said.
“I hope that people are just mindful that we are human, we make mistakes and we own up to those mistakes,” he said. “Although we’re not rushing, we are going to try to expedite things as [quickly] as possible.”
Contact news writer Liv Ronca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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