Shuttle driver

Creighton shuttle driver Emil Papke keeps himself and students safe by wearing a mask while driving and sanitizing seats after use. Drivers are aware of the risks of COVID-19, as many are of older age.

Creighton’s Public Safety has taken on a new role since the coronavirus outbreak and is now responsible for transporting students to and from quarantine or isolation at the DoubleTree hotel, taking students to get tested on campus and transporting those tests to Lincoln to be analyzed.

“We’re here to serve the students, and this is just another way that we help pro- tect and serve,” Assistant Vice President of Public Safety Michael Reiner said. “It’s different than our normal activity, but it’s just as important that we get the students where they need to be because it’s a stressful time.”

Reiner said that there are currently 10 part-time drivers and one full-time fleet manager who can transport students when needed. Students can be transported via the Public Safety Ford Explorers or via the Creighton shuttle buses, depending on the need and circumstance.

In order to keep both students and drivers safe during these transports, Rein- er said that the vehicles used are fitted with plastic screens between the student and driver. Drivers are also required to wear an N95 mask.

Additionally, after transporting isolated students, the vehicles must be completely sanitized and fogged. With quarantined students, however, the vehicle does not have to be fogged in between usage.

Reiner explained that isolated students are those who are showing symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 while quarantined students are those who have had potential exposure to COVID-19.

“I feel pretty safe about it,” Public Safety officer Randall Mastin said. Mastin has completed several of these transports.

Mastin said that being a Public Safety officer has been different since the pan- demic began.

“It’s just a different vibe having to go with all of these procedures,” Mastin said. “We’re obviously trying to keep ourselves safe and help accommodate the students as well. So far, things have been working pretty smoothly, so hopefully that continues.”

Reiner said that Public Safety officers are acutely aware of the risks associated with coronavirus, as many drivers are older or have young kids at home. 

“We’re going to make sure we do our job, but I want to make sure that they feel as comfortable as possible, and that we lower that risk as much as possible,” Reiner said.

“So far, everybody’s healthy, and we hope to keep it that way,” director of transportation Mark Simanek said.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the shuttles have been transporting stu- dents at half capacity on the normal routes. Because of this, Simanek said that double the number of shuttles are now running the normal routes.

Reiner said the shuttle buses have been averaging about 125 students per day on the normal routes since the semester started in August.

Simanek said that he expects that number to increase and the need for shuttles to become more strained as the weather worsens in order to accommodate regular shuttle riders, as well as the additional transports.

“I feel more restricted now just because of the capacity that we can haul,” Simanek said.

Reiner explained that Public Safety continues to carry out its normal duties, as well as those added on because of the coronavirus. He also said that it is important that the department continues to improve and plan for the future.

“Ultimately, we’re about protecting students, and this is just another venue to do that,” Reiner said.

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