CDC issues new COVID-19 guidance for school nutrition professionals

The guidelines were updated to include information on self-service stations.
A self-serve station with vegetables.
photograph: Shutterstock

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new COVID-19 guidance for school nutrition professionals who are operating self-serve stations, such as salad bars

While it is still recommended that school nutrition staff serve food to students, there are several guidelines schools should follow if they do operate self-serve bars, the CDC says. 

According to the CDC, staff and students who are waiting in line or serving themselves food should all be wearing masks and maintaining a 6-foot distance. Schools can encourage social distancing with floor decals and other signs. Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations should be made available to students before using a self-serve station, and shared objects, such as tongs, should continue to be replaced according to food safety code. 

In addition, non-disposable foodservice items that are used or dirty should be handled with gloves and washed, rinsed and sanitized in accordance with food safety requirements. School nutrition employees and volunteers should wash their hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds after removing gloves or after handling used or dirty foodservice items, per the CDC.

Schools should also install barriers on self-serve stations, such as a sneeze shield, to protect unpackaged items from contamination.

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