Coronavirus closures raise question of school meals

Schools and districts in several state close after staff and students test positive
By: | March 9, 2020
Districts that close schools because of coronavirus can continue to serve meals under alternate programs, such as the Summer Food Service program, Civil Eats reported.Districts that close schools because of coronavirus can continue to serve meals under alternate programs, such as the Summer Food Service program, Civil Eats reported.

One of California’s largest school systems Elk Grove USD, will be closed this week because of a district family’s positive COVID-19 test and quarantine.

Elk Grove USD, which said no students or staff had tested positive, also moved its spring break to this week to “minimize the impact to student learning and any loss of school days,” the district said on its website.

District leaders will decide by Thursday whether to hold classes next week.

In Riverside County in Southern California, 71 Murrieta Valley USD students have been quarantined because they had contact with a school employee who was being tested for coronavirus after traveling to a country experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

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Murrieta Valley High School was closed Monday, the district reported on its website.

“While I want to reassure the students, families and staff at MVHS that the risk of transmission is low, I support the school district’s decision to temporarily close the school until testing is complete,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, said in a statement.

In Indiana, a student tested positive for the virus, resulting in a two-week closure of Hickory Elementary School, the Avon Community School Corporation announced on its website.

Leaders also made Monday an e-learning day for the entire district. The elementary school’s closure means that, combined with spring break, students will not return to the building until at least April 6.

Just north of New York City, leaders at Scarsdale Public Schools announced the district would be closed through March 18 “for or continued cleaning, progress monitoring, and social-distancing” after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The staff member is experiencing mild illness, the district said.

District leaders also said they will be developing a plan to shift to online education started on Monday, March 18.

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A handful of schools in Massachusetts and New Hampshire also closed Monday after parents had tested positive, NBC 10 Boston reported.

In New Jersey, a few districts closed to help teachers prepare to shift to online learning and disinfect buildings, 101.5-FM reported.

However, health and education officials in Oregon decided not to close South Meadows Middle School outside Portland after a student tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.

“The unfortunate reality is that COVID-19 is in our community,” Hillsboro School District Superintendent Mike Scott said in a letter to the community. “Updated guidance … is that closing schools may not be an effective method for stopping the spread of the virus.”

The middle school got a thorough cleaning and individuals who may have been exposed will be asked to self-isolate, Scott wrote.

Coronavirus and school nutrition

The growing number of closures is raising questions about where some students will get free- and reduced-price lunch and other federally provided meals.

“We have a large number of kids on free and reduced-price lunch, and these kids are going to have a very hard time getting food each day if there are widespread closures. We’re working on contingencies right now,” Kathy Reeves, director of communications in the Everett School District in Washington, told Civil Eats after the district had closed on of its schools.

Approved districts that close schools can continue to serve meals under alternate programs, such as the Summer Food Service program, and districts without approvals could seek waivers, Civil Eats reported.

Around the world, about 300 million students are out of school because of coronavirus closures, NPR reported.

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