6/13/18 Hillenbrand Hall Dining Court

The Hillenbrand Dining Court will be closed from today until the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester, according to an announcement on a Purdue Dining and Catering App on Saturday.

As the University enters its last full week of operations before Thanksgiving break, local schools transitioning to online learning has strained staffing at Purdue, causing Hillenbrand Dining Court to close for the remainder of the semester.

Tippecanoe School Corp. announced in a press release on Nov. 9 that starting the following day, it would transition to online learning for students until after Thanksgiving break.

McCutcheon and Harrison High Schools switched to remote learning Tuesday, with all other schools making the transition Wednesday. TSC schools plan to return to in-person instruction on Nov. 30, the release states.

The closure has led to a reduction in staff available to work in Purdue Dining & Catering positions, according to a message on a Purdue Dining app.

Parents of students now learning online can no longer work at Hillenbrand Dining Court, forcing it to close from today until the beginning of next semester.

Purdue Dining had not responded as of Sunday afternoon for comment on how extensively the corporation’s closure has affected its staff and operations.

“We don’t have numbers on workers or areas affected by local school closures,” Purdue spokesperson Tim Doty said Sunday.

He referenced a message from Bill Bell, vice president for human resources at Purdue, that was posted to the Protect Purdue webpage on Thursday. The message briefly addressed the potential for staff issues due to employees’ children moving to online learning.

“As in the spring, I’d like for our supervisors to continue to allow flexibility with schedules and paid time off for any impacted colleague that is facing increased child-care demands,” Bell’s message states.

Laura Bowling, a professor in the College of Science, has children who attend schools within TSC and made the transition online last week.

She said the transition did not affect her work as much as it might for others, as both of her children are in high school and can, for the most part, remain accountable for their classes themselves.

“I just need to spend a little extra time checking on my younger son, who sometimes forgets things,” she said. “I teach my classes from the basement to avoid distracting noise, but really the transition was not that painful for us.”

City Editor Carson Bailey contributed reporting.

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