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Ask & Answer | Providing school meals safely during COVID-19

We’ve heard a lot of questions about how to safely provide school meals to students during COVID-19.

Updated on March 30 at 7 a.m.

Here is the latest guidance on providing school meals safely.

The first document provides guidance for safely delivering school meals. In the final section, it says: “Delivery drivers should limit direct contact with students receiving deliveries and continue to practice social distancing.”

This document is from the NC Department of Health and Human Services. It provides interim COVID-19 guidance for school nutrition and transportation personnel. It is intended to “help our school nutrition and transportation personnel make informed decisions about COVID-19 and minimize risk of exposure to both the staff and the children and families receiving meals.”

For additional guidance, review the memo below on safely preparing and providing meals for students during COVID-19 from Lynn Harvey, chief of child nutrition services for the state Department of Public Instruction. It is addressed to school nutrition administrators and includes guidance on minimizing person-to-person contact, practicing good personal hygiene, and implementing routine sanitizing procedures.

How one district is approaching safety and school meals

In Mitchell County, the school district’s safety team was tasked with creating procedures for the safe distribution of school meals at sites across the county.

According to Michael Tountasakis, principal of Harris Middle School and a member of the safety team, early meetings focused on safety procedures for each of the district’s food distribution sites and models, including grab-and-go meals at schools and direct delivery of meals to individual homes.

The district developed this brief script for food distribution personnel to use while interacting with students and families at sites.

The district also developed these safety protocols for delivery of meals directly to homes.

Additionally, the district provided these work safety guidelines to all their employees. It includes things like practicing social distancing and avoiding crowds.

Analisa Sorrells

Analisa Sorrells is a Master in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and previously worked as chief of staff and associate director of policy for EducationNC.