USA/July 28, 2020/By WLKY Digital Team/Source: https://www.wlky.com/
As schools across Kentucky get ready to welcome back students — in-house or virtually — state education officials are providing some guidelines for meal programs amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kentucky Department of Education released guidance Monday for school districts, stressing that each school will need to come up with individual plans due to the differentiation in the number of students and the layout of buildings.
School districts should also consult local health officials to ensure plans meet state guidelines and before finalizing their meal plans, officials said.
The department of education is proposing three different ways of distributing meals this coming school year. Officials said the proposals will help ensure there is enough social distancing and the possibility of contact tracing.
- Serve meals in classrooms.
- Serve meals in gyms or other areas of the building.
- Provide grab-and-go meals for consumption in the cafeteria or hallways.
According to the department of education, school districts should allow multiple meal service methods during a single meal service among different groups of children.
School districts should also ensure accurate meal counts for each service method used.
How should meals be served:
According to the department, meals should be distributed in supervised, non-congregate settings that provide for enough social distancing. School districts should pre-plan delivery and service methods to individual groups of students to enable contact tracing.
Here are a few strategy proposals:
- Staggering meal service periods so arrival and dismissal times limit the amount of contact between students in high-traffic situations.
- Assigning seats to students to help with contact tracing.
- Arranging chairs to face the same direction.
- Utilizing disposable trays, dishes and utensils.
- Eliminating self-service stations.
- Eliminating sharing of food.
Education officials said school districts should allow for increased time for staff to get daily meal distribution ready for students. That also includes sanitation afterward.
Food service staff will also need to check temperatures and complete health screenings for all employees before arriving to the workplace. The department of education has provided a sample health screening form for districts to use. Click here to view.
Here are a few other suggestions:
- Maintaining consistency of child nutrition staff at each school.
- Maintaining adequate supplies of personal protective equipment.
- Promoting healthy hygiene practices.
According to the department of education, all meal pattern requirements will need to be met to receive reimbursement for the meals that are served. There will also need adequate accommodations for students with disabilities to obtain equal access to food programs.
The department of education has detail information on meal service, including safe food practices and reopening kitchens.
More information about COVID-19 measures in schools can be found online.
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.