Dodgeville School District takes extra safety measures during lunchtime

From individual lunch tables, to social distancing markers, the school district has new measures in place during lunchtime
Students at Dodgeville High School wait on social distance markers on the ground in the...
Students at Dodgeville High School wait on social distance markers on the ground in the cafeteria for lunch.(NBC15)
Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 8:00 PM CDT
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DODGEVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - Lunchtime in the cafeteria can be synonymous with socialization and students sitting shoulder to shoulder enjoying their midday break. But in the age of COVID-19, lunchtime looks different.

The Dodgeville School District is implementing various safety measures throughout its schools in the hopes of keeping students safe and socially distanced at lunch.

“We’re just all glad that the school year has started, there’s been a lot of work put into the planning for the relaunch of schools and we’re just excited to have the kids back,” said District Administrator Paul Weber. “Every day is a blessing to have them in the building and to work with our virtual students and start education up.”

Last year, the school year ended in virtual learning. Weber said the safety of students and staff is the number one priority, and that they’re implementing social distancing markers on the floor, and have increased hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies around the schools and in classrooms.

“We are taking safety and precautionary measures for our students,” he said. “We are requiring masks during the day, we are requiring social distancing.”

Students having lunch at the high school are greeted by a hand sanitizer dispenser, and have to stand on social distancing markers on the floor while waiting in line, as well as when filing through the kitchen area. Kitchen staff load students’ trays to prevent students from touching food or utensils, and rather than manually typing in their personal code to pay for their meals, students can now scan lanyards.

“We’ve been planning since June about what this is going to look like, so I feel like we’re pretty ready,” said Food Service Director Chris Lindner.

Lindner said elementary school students will be eating lunch in their classrooms. For 4th through 6th graders, each grade level is broken down into sections, and they rotate so students have a turn to eat in the middle school cafeteria. In the high school, there are three lunches lines or phases, beginning first with 7th and 8th graders, who are at the high school, then 9th graders, then 10th through 12th graders.

“Here at the high school we are having three lunch lines so we can have them more distanced, we will be eating in the cafeteria,” she said of the phased approach to lunchtime. “We’ve put in single seated tables so we can do our social distancing, we have plenty of room in this building for that.”

Lindner also said tables will be disinfected between each lunch phase, and they all must face the same direction.

Lindner, who’s been with the district for 24 years, said she missed the students over the summer, and that she knows there’s a need for students to receive these meals.

“I can’t imagine not having it I guess, no matter what. I know they need it, that’s why,” she said. “A hungry child can’t learn, we’re trying to get it in their hands the best we can.”

Weber said families in the district also have the option of all virtual schooling. He said in terms of schedules, early childhood through 9th grade is coming in person each day, and the rest of the high schoolers are blended virtual and in-person learning. According to the Dodgeville School District website, early learners through third grade will be at the elementary school, 4th through 6th graders will be at the middle school, and 7th through 9th graders will be at the high school, with 10th through 12th graders blended. Lindner said meals are also available for virtual students for pick up two days a week.

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