Social gatherings are a hallmark of holiday celebrations, and the rise in new variants of COVID-19 certainly won’t stop that. As we dive into the holidays this year, let’s keep in mind some essential ways to stay safe and healthy around large group gatherings, and how we can keep that going when we head back to work and school.
Enjoy Your Holidays Safely
It’s hard to believe we’re in our second holiday season under a pandemic. While life may appear to be inching closer to normal, it’s still important to take extra precaution around the holidays.
The CDC recommends the following practices to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.
- Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings
- Celebrate outdoors, if possible
- Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
- Don’t host or attend gatherings if you feel sick or have symptoms.
- Get tested if you have symptoms, or close contact with someone who has COVID-19
- If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk.
Enforce Protocols Upon Return
Make sure to keep your kitchens and cafeterias as safe as you can when returning from the holiday break. Exposure from holiday parties and extended travel increase the chances of spreading the flu or virus wherever we go. Coupled with staff shortages and supply chain issues, having employees fall sick is the last thing we all need.
- Emphasize and enforce protocols to promote hand-washing at every interval, staying home if feeling unwell, social distancing, and maintaining mask protocols for staff and students where possible.
- Ensure frequently touched surfaces, or surfaces that come in contact with food, are cleaned and sanitized before and after meals.
- Conduct site inspections across the district to ensure each cafeteria follows all safety, sanitation, and food preparation guidelines.
Use Best Practices in the Lunchroom
Last month, the CDC updated its guidelines for COVID-19 prevention in schools, including best practices for food service and school meals. They included several recommendations for staff and service in addition to wearing masks, such as:
- Maximize physical distance as much as possible when moving through the food service line and while eating (especially indoors).
- Meal transactions can also be touch-free with the right technology, such as barcode scanners or bulk sales.
- Use additional spaces outside the cafeteria for mealtime seating, such as the gymnasium or outdoor seating, to help facilitate distancing.
- A great way to do this is the use of a mobile POS system that can work wirelessly and offline.
- Improve ventilation in food preparation, service, and seating areas.
As always, keeping students fed and healthy is at the forefront of all you do. We wish you all a safe and happy holiday season because we truly can’t do this without you! See you all back here next year!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Guidance for covid-19 prevention in K-12 Schools. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Holiday tips. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/celebrations.html.