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State officials question how meals will be served safely when schools reopen

Education

CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — Like just about everything else right now, schools will look much different when welcoming students back for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The Connecticut State Department of Education released an extensive set of guidelines for what learning will look like in the fall.

As seen during the pandemic, a lot of families depend on schools to provide at least a couple of their child’s meals each day. Naturally, a big concern for educators and parents alike is how to serve meals safely.

“We did talk about it this morning, about what that could look like in some districts,” said Holly McCalla, President of the Connecticut Association of School Business Officials. “Some districts probably will deliver to the classrooms so that the students can stay in their areas. Some will change, maybe lengthen the lunch waves but shorten the actual lunch period so that kids can cycle in and out at different times.”

One district suggested to rent event tents to extend cafeteria space.

“As districts work within their districts to come up with their reopening plans, how they’re gonna manage food service is, again, another huge topic, but very individual when based upon their own district needs,” McCalla said.

RELATED: Bus companies prepare for new safety protocols as students head back to school this fall

However, when it comes to districts or individual schools, there is no disparity.

“ECS funding was put forward to control that, but there’s still major disparities from town to town,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that there is that difference, but that’s no different how it’s really ever been.” 

McCalla said the new guidelines should be stepping stones, not what’s set in stone.

“It has to be a fluid document, and everyone has to be willing to adapt to change because it’s going to change, and districts can put forward their best plan and realize after a week that it’s not working. So, if it’s not fluid it’s going to fail.”

Districts are required to develop a plan that sticks to the state’s guidelines by July 24.

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