To prepare families and students for returning to school, this week we’re highlighting key elements of our health and safety measures, with extra emphasis on any changes to our practices since Winter Break.
Today we’re focusing on our new Eating and Drinking Health Guidance.
State and local public health officials, as well as the ABC Science Collaborative, have repeatedly stressed that students and staff are most vulnerable to COVID-19 while they are eating or drinking because their face coverings are removed. When we looked at information collected from COVID-19 cases during the first semester, we found this was an opportunity for us to strengthen our procedures to significantly reduce the risk of exposure.
While these new guidelines are a significant change in school meal procedures, we hope you will appreciate that these additional measures will help keep everyone healthy. This will also give us the best chance to safely keep our schools open, so we can provide academic and emotional support for our students and our community.
Here are the main changes in our guidelines:
- Because face coverings will be removed, all students and staff must maintain at least six feet of social distance while eating, even when operating under Plan A.
- Some students will eat in the cafeteria. Some students will eat in classrooms. Principals may modify eating locations or schedules for their school to maximize the use of available space and staffing resources.
- Students should leave their face coverings on until everyone in their area is seated with food packages open and ready to eat. Staff will instruct students to remove their face coverings at the same time to start eating. This is intended to minimize the amount of time students have their face coverings removed. Students will have at least 20 minutes to finish eating their food.
- Students should not socialize or talk with others while their face coverings are removed.
- Students and staff should immediately put their face covering back on when they are finished eating.
- If food or drink is provided for students or employees, it must be commercially bought and commercially pre-packaged in individual containers with separate, disposable utensils for each person, if needed.
- There will be no off-campus lunch privileges for high school students when they return, provided the school’s campus has enough room to accommodate all students.
- All employees and students must be socially distanced at least 6 feet from others when removing their face covering to drink. Students should request a water break, and the school will designate an area for the student to drink so they can maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from others.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Together, we must all do our part to keep our schools safe and healthy for our staff and students.
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