Life on campus in the time of COVID: Employee profile with Dean Yurkowski

Dean Yurkowski, radiation safety specialist, shares what life is like on campus during COVID-19.

Before COVID Yurkowski’s role involved looking after the needs of radiation permit holders across campus, supporting research on campus by ordering materials, receiving and delivering them to labs and performing safety inspections to ensure everything was running smoothly, and safely.

How did you spend your time during lockdown?

I like to cook so I was in the kitchen a lot. Like everyone else I really got into baking, trying out recipes from my relatives and learning how to tell when the dough feels right. One of my sons and I even got into making perogis!

When did you return to campus?

I was working from home for the first few months, but as we got closer to increasing activity on campus it was important to have part of the Safety Resources team on the ground to help prepare. In the middle of May we started to walk through labs to identify any infrastructure or safety issues that might need to be addressed before the resumption of some the critical research that takes place on campus.

What has changed since COVID-19?

The biggest change is not seeing people on a regular basis and having those quick, in person, conversations. I miss that part of the office routine. Now when someone comes in we make sure to yell down the hallway to make sure we know who’s in the office.

What is it like working on campus during the pandemic?

Quiet and eerie. Buildings used to be so packed with students, staff and faculty, but now so many are empty and have minimal lighting so it’s a really different feeling on campus. The regular high traffic areas like Tim Hortons really stand out. I think that there are more gophers on campus than people, and when you run into someone everyone is eager to chat. I’ve been able to catch up with a lot of colleagues and even meet some new ones. The thing we’re all missing the most is that face-to-face contact.

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