How Springfield families can access school meals this fall
Springfield students will be able to access school meals Monday through Friday, even if they are slated to learn in-person just two days a week.
They can take home grab-and-go meals on their final in-person learning day each week. For example, students may take home meals Tuesday when they leave for their day for their virtual days, Wednesday through Friday.
Students who opted to go full-time virtual this fall won't be left out either. They can pick up meals for the week Monday at their assigned school.
"We will also have an opportunity for anyone who is full-virtual to come in and pick up meals," said Carol Embree, deputy superintendent for operations. "We'll also provide some evening distribution."
Embree gave the school board an update Tuesday on school meal distribution. This fall, 24 percent of students will be full-time virtual and most of the rest will learn in-person two days as week as part of a hybrid model.
The state's largest district provided 775,698 grab-and-go meals to families as part of its response to the pandemic from March 18 through July 31.
School lunch costs
Embree said the federal waiver that allowed the district to provide the meals at no cost to families during that period has expired. Going forward, the district must again charge for school meals.
Full-price lunch is $2.75 in elementary and $3 in middle and high school. The reduced rate is 40 cents.
In anticipation of that change, the district has been aggressively reaching out to families to see if they qualify for free or reduced price meals. Since the 2010-11 year, more than half of all students have been eligible for the assistance.
"We know that some people have had some hard times come upon them with COVID-19 and they may now qualify," Embree said.
She said the district has processes in place at school "so nobody knows if somebody is on free or reduced lunch."
How lunch will look in schools
The process for serving meals at school will also change.
Embree said students accustomed to picking hot items during lunch lines or accessing self-serve stations will have a different experience. "Everything will be pre-packaged and individually wrapped. We won't be sharing condiments or anything like that."
Each principal is expected to review lunch procedure to see if meals need to start earlier in the day and if additional lunch periods are needed.
In preschool and elementary, breakfast will be served in the classroom. Students will eat lunch in the cafeteria, washing their hands before and after the meal.
The children will be educated on social distancing and tables will be disinfected between classrooms.
In middle and high school, students will eat in the classroom but lunch will still be in the cafeteria.
"We'll keep classes together and seat them together," she said. "They'll stay in certain areas of the cafeteria and release in that same fashion. We potentially will have assigned seating."
Tables will be set up in the cafeteria as well as hallways and other areas so students can spread out. "Whatever we can do to capitalize on the square footage in each building we will be doing that," she said.
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to email@example.com and consider supporting vital local journalism by subscribing. Learn more by visiting News-Leader.com/subscribe.