Schools will have a phased re-opening following the coronavirus shutdown, and with the government suggesting this will begin on June 1st, a food safety consultancy has suggested school restaurants and canteens will need to respond heavily with coronavirus control measures.
As pupil’s education has suffered due to the lengthy lockdown, parents’ concerns have mounted surrounding the safety in schools as they hope for their children to return.
Derek Gardner, Environmental Health Consultant and a Director at Navitas, one of the UK’s leading food safety consultancies, says that parents and pupils will need reassuring upon the reopening of education facilities.
With fears that a dangerous second peak could unfold if the public and the catering sector is not prepared Derek says: “It would be logical to implement strict safety measures similar to the hospitality industry in order to significantly reduce the risk of transmission.
“Canteens and kitchens are naturally characterised by close physical proximity and so could pose a risk to children and staff if not correctly organized and monitored.
Similarly to the hospitality sector, Navitas advises schools to implement coronavirus control measures. These include: regular staff and student health declarations upon returning to the school environment, coronavirus awareness training for staff, plus the considered appointment of a designated Covid Champion who would conduct and monitor efficient implementation of each measure.
“We would also advise schools to include multiple sanitising stations around canteens and classroom areas and touchpoints such as light switches and handles. There should also be a clear system of travel and signage that displays it in these areas and reviewed seating and screening arrangements between tables.
“Pre-ordering lunch from a reduced menu during morning registration could also ensure catering staff can prepare earlier on and then have a simple pick-up service.”
“Moreover, increased staggering of lunch breaks would reduce numbers in the canteen at any one time, which would allow seating to be spread out and enable staff to enforce hand and tray sanitising procedures more easily.”
Navitas’ are currently offering free instructions to kitchens across the UK as part of their new Covid Control certification which aims to assist catering facilities in becoming competent in safety procedures and hygiene measures surrounding Covid-19 which fall in-line with government guidelines.
“In these extremely challenging times, we consider our guidance to be the best-case scenario that will enable schools to re-open their doors as safely as possible, as soon as the government allows them to do so.”
Please visit www.navitas.eu.com for more information on the Covid Control certification and free practical guide.