Meals Program - Health & Safety Update

Dear CPS Community:

I want to share with you that an individual involved with transporting crates of bagged lunches for our emergency meals program has tested positive for COVID-19. Staff members and volunteers from the program who came into close contact with this person were notified by the Cambridge Public Health Department on April 2 that they should monitor for symptoms through Saturday, April 4. This person is not a Cambridge resident and contact tracing was conducted by another municipality.

The time period during which this person worked for the meals program was very brief -- from March 16–19.The person did not come into close contact (6 feet or less) with the general public, only staff and volunteers at the Peabody site during this four-day period and with staff and volunteers at the King Open on a single day (March 17). To our knowledge, none of these individuals have developed any symptoms.

Before I share more, I want to express my appreciation for this individual’s contributions to the program and for all those who have continued to work and volunteer under the difficult conditions created by this outbreak. Our thoughts are with the affected individual and their family during this time.

We take the safety and health of essential workers—including CPS custodians, food & nutrition services staff, bus drivers, family liaisons, volunteers and families—very seriously. Specific safety precautions that are in place to operate the Emergency Meals Program include the following:

  • Staff members involved in preparing food are all Safe-Serv certified and have received additional training in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
  • All individuals who handle food wear gloves, stand 6 feet apart during food preparation, and take their temperature at the start of each shift. Those who directly handle bags of food also wear gloves.
  • Because of nationwide shortages of masks, we have not yet been able to provide them to these individuals, but a generous volunteer has stepped forward to donate non-medical masks to the program and we look forward to implementing that additional safety precaution.
  • Once prepared, bagged breakfast and lunches are sealed inside a delivery crate that is sanitized each evening in preparation for packing the next morning.
  • Those who transport the crates never touch the food or bags of food, and the crates are set on a separate table or cart from where the bags will be placed for pick-up by families.
  • Staff members or trained volunteers from Food For Free wear gloves as they move bags of food from the crates and onto the tables used for pick-up. Then, volunteers/staff step back from the tables.
  • Families and students who arrive to pick up meals are provided with instructions for ensuring they remain 6 feet apart from others at all times,only touching the bags they pick up.
  • All tables and carts are sanitized nightly, and seats where crates are placed are also cleaned nightly.

As always, we encourage members of our community to take this outbreak very seriously, while also paying attention to your mental health and overall well-being during an uncertain time. The City of Cambridge COVID-19 Resource Page contains a number of important resources and supports, with fact sheets in English and other languages. I especially encourage you to take a moment to read:

Our own website contains a number of resources specific to families, including recommended reading related to maintaining overall health, mental health and well-being and talking with children and teens about the COVID-19 outbreak.

These are difficult times, and as always, I encourage you to take care of yourselves, your families, and one another. The generosity we show one another will help us through this time.

Sincerely,

Kenneth N. Salim, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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