The University of Idaho announced Monday its Teaching and Learning Center is largely back in service after being closed for more than a month.

The facility and the adjoined Idaho Student Union Building were shut down in early November after the failure of a water filtration backwash system caused flooding in the basement and damaged a transformer resulting in power loss to both buildings. Classes, offices and scheduled events in both buildings were moved to different locations around campus while maintenance crews worked to repair the damage.

According to Monday’s update, a new transformer is installed and operational, allowing those with offices in the TLC and ISUB to return and the reopening of the food court and coffee shop located in the buildings. While many classes were allowed to return in mid-November when partial power was restored, the rest will not return to their ISUB/TLC spaces until the start of the next semester, Jan. 15.

Chris Cook, director of Career Services at UI, said it’s been good to have their offices back, but it’s also a relief to students who treat the conjoined buildings as a central gathering space.

“I think, with everything else going on, it just reduces anxiety for students, they’ve got enough going on whether it be their finances, their classes, their personal life, or whatever it is,” Cook said. “Having something returned back to its norm is like a little comfort food, if you will — in fact there is food right downstairs.”

With the facilities back online, students ranged from relieved to indifferent — though many who don’t necessarily have classes in either facility said it’s nice to have Einstein Bros Bagels and food court offerings again. Civil engineering student Jorge Sencion said for his part, he’s just happy to have his classes back in the same building.

“I have several classes in here so usually it’s just nice to stay in a building, instead of having to travel around campus,” Sencion said. “I had two classes right across campus from each other and so I had to do that extra long trip each day — one class just decided not to meet up at all.”

UI Director of Communications Jodi Walker said the UI community did an admirable job working through the closures, but it will be nice to have a “functional hub” restored to campus. She noted food court staff were redistributed to work in other campus facilities to ensure they weren’t out of work through the closure.

“It was an inconvenience but it wasn’t catastrophic by any stretch of the imagination,” Walker said. “It really showed everybody coming together and coming up with solutions and being able to do their work and teach their classes and attend their classes and be flexible in doing so — really without missing a beat.”

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