At the time of this blog post, 27 states and the District of Columbia have shut public schools down for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to the coronavirus. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is being felt in every facet of schools -from educators to cafeteria workers to maintenance staff. And while schools are closed for students and faculty for learning, they are still vital beacons for communities. With cafeterias and buildings still open to feed children, the cafeteria and food service workers are working overtime to provide essential services to the community in a safe and healthy way. Facility maintenance staffs are using the time to catch up on preventative maintenance projects, asset surveying and updated sanitation plans when schools re-open.
Food programs in overdrive
As a recent article in Vox.com astutely pointed out – you can’t serve lunches over Zoom. States and school districts across the country have scrambled to stay on top of the demand for children’s meals that they would normally receive at school. Not only does this present a huge fiscal challenge, but the logistics and staffing needed to ensure meals are delivered in a safe way during the pandemic presents additional challenges. According to the Urban School Food Alliance, over 30 million kids nationwide rely on school lunches. A district’s food prep workers, bus drivers and facility workers have been extremely essential in this time. We’ve seen school districts perform very responsible food preparation and distribution protocols to ensure social distancing. Schools are providing grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches as well as utilizing their buses for distribution so people can stay at home.
The Urban School Fund Alliance noted that the nation’s 12 largest school districts will spend $12 - $19 million through June 30 to meet the demands of their food operations and in Los Angeles alone, and they are serving between 400 – 500k meals per day since schools have shut down there. The over 42,000 cafeteria workers across the country are still showing up to school to help feed the kids in their community. It has been inspirational to watch communities come together in this time of need with schools and staff playing such an integral role.
With empty school buildings comes a halt in day to day maintenance and work orders for the facility staff. Many of our customers are finding time to do some long-awaited facility maintenance projects and asset surveying. Facility staff has the time to survey and update their building asset information, focus on preventative maintenance tasks and any backed-up maintenance projects. In some states, capital projects for schools are seen as essential and districts are getting a jump start on budgeted capital project plans. And there’s also the prep work to update schools for the return of teachers and students in the future. This could include updating emergency building plans, installing hand sanitizing stations across the building and updating facility cleaning and sanitizing protocols.
A Big Thanks
At such a time when schools and education have been turned upside down, we are inspired by of all of the heroes that are putting their health and safety on the line to still show up to school everyday to help feed the children and families in their community. At MasterLibrary, we want to say thank you to all of these essential workers and let’s keep finding ways to help support our children and food service workers during this time.