- Orange County School District
Important Update on Plan B Meal Guidance!
Dear OCS Families:
Our Board of Education and school leaders want to take this opportunity to share with you information about a recent School Board decision regarding students consuming meals at school.
According to medical and scientific experts from the ABC Science Collaborative and others, it has been confirmed that eating school meals outdoors is the absolute safest way for students to consume food on campuses.
The OCS School Board revisited this topic January 25, 2021 and took action that establishes that it is their expectation that meals should be consumed outdoors without exception—if and only if any of the following weather-related circumstances (beyond staff’s control) should occur:
- It is pouring rain and there is no shelter.
- It is snowing.
- It is below freezing temperatures (Note: 33 degrees is an acceptable temperature).
When eating outdoors, students will sit on benches, picnic tables, etc. or sit picnic style while on a mat, towel, etc. Students should not sit directly on the ground. Please know that school leaders are working diligently to request tangible equipment/items that will assist with this part of the new meal guidance.
In the event of any one of the weather-related circumstances, the Board agreed in its motion that the next best place, and first alternative to eating outdoors, would be the classrooms. If meals must be consumed in the classroom, it is critical for staff and students to strictly abide by the 3Ws as well as the following additional stipulations:
- absolutely no talking
- the windows and door open/and or cracked
- the air purifier on, and
- all students spaced greater than 6 feet apart.
In the event neither outdoors, nor the classroom are options, the last alternative would be to rotate classes through large indoor spaces, such as a cafeteria, gym or media center.
We do understand that eating outdoors in the winter time may be uncomfortable and is not ideal, but in the best interest of safety and health, and in light of the world experiencing this pandemic, having student eat meals within a short (15-minute) time window outdoors is ideal—if and only if students are properly clothed for the weather.
To that point, the Board stands united and ready to provide anything schools may need in support of students having to eat all school meals outdoors. This includes school social workers and others assisting with having extra coats, scarves, gloves, etc. on hand for students who may need them.
How can you help?
- Pay attention to the weather and ensure that your child is properly clothed for eating outside for each school day.
- Remind your child the importance of keeping at least 6 feet apart from others, to wash/sanitize their hands at every opportunity, and not to talk during the short time allotted to (take off their mask and) eat.
- Foods should be consumed within 15 minutes (not including the time needed to prep food such as peeling a banana, opening a milk carton, that will happen before masks are removed to start eating). Encourage your child to be swift, to focus, to eat, NOT to talk, and to wash/sanitize their hands promptly upon finishing each meal as directed by their teacher or other adults at school.
- Please ensure your child wears an appropriately sized and fitting mask to school every day. If the mask is not the right size or not properly worn it is not protecting your child or others.
- Additionally, please continue to keep your child home if he/she displays any COVID-19 symptoms. Thank you.
Please note that it is with the safety and health of your child that these expectations are set. Staff will be ensuring that classes/cohorts at each tier stay together for meals.
Specific dining protocols, approved by medical professionals, have been shared with Principals, who in turn, will share with all staff.
Please be assured that the protocol covers meals from start to finish, and also accounts for managing instances when a student may choose not to comply with the rules. Revised Plan B meals guidance for schools can be found here: Plan B Meals Guidance
In light of additional new data related to schools, it is clear that masking is the number one defense against transmission of the COVID-19. That considered, mealtimes will be the ONLY times when it is permissible for the removal of one’s cloth mask/face covering. Mask breaks, which were at one point in time acceptable, are no longer advisable.
We are all in this together and we thank you for your grace and understanding, as none of this is ideal. But we know that the best—and safest—place for students is in the classroom.
For parents who do not feel their child can comply with the Board’s expectations, remote learning is still an option.
If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact your child’s principal.
Thank you in advance for your support as we continue to put forth our best efforts to provide your child with the best education possible during this evolving global pandemic.
In service to children,
Dr. Monique Felder