With coronavirus (COVID-19) still lurking in the air, student employees at The Cage are spraying and wiping down every piece of rental equipment that gets slid under their newly installed glass barrier. Employees and students must adhere to a new set of rules in order to sign out equipment, which includes new pickup and drop-off times, sanitary protocols and most importantly, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Federal work-study employees Emely Alba, a senior communication and media arts major, and Zoë MacBryde, a senior television and digital media major, start their shifts at the rental equipment hub at 1 p.m. with their masks on and a temperature check awaiting them before starting their shift at the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University.
Once cleared, they can begin spraying down hardware returned from students and await their arrival. Every single piece of equipment gets sprayed externally and wiped down internally with disinfectants, which seems like a fairly simple task, but MacBryde says it can require a lot of attention.
“We looked [at equipment] before, but now we have to really look because we have to wipe everything down,” MacBryde said. “We’re more aware of missing or broken parts.”
With new guidelines and way of order, both employees recognize class orders have caused equipment mix-ups from when professors order enough equipment for the entire class to use during their class time. One of the mix-ups entails the famous Canon 80D seen around the School of Communication and Media Arts, where lenses and batteries are placed into differently assigned camera bags. One of the assumed culprits are incoming students, due to COVID-19 impacting how they learn to use and properly return equipment.
“You can try to remind the students that ‘oh, please remember this is flipped through this way. Don’t leave the battery inside the camera.’ I don’t know, I just feel like with these times, things are getting more hectic and more difficult to do than how it usually was,” Alba said. “I really do feel bad for incoming students like freshmen because this is not how [utilizing equipment from The Cage] is.”
Ever since pickup and drop-off times have changed according to each student’s major, both employees have noticed an increase in late returns and a decrease in the amount of students coming to pick up and drop off equipment. The week has been split between five majors: journalism, communication and media arts, film, public relations and television and digital media. Each major has pickup and drop-off days with specific time windows to ensure that all equipment is properly cleaned.
What was once a hub for all has become restricted to the campus community after a deadly virus has put six feet and a glass barrier between them.