North Dakota Superintendent visits with Fargo school cafeteria workers
Kirsten Baesler stopped at Ed Clapp Elementary to see how it's managing lunch time amid the pandemic
FARGO, N.D. — “Education will never be the same system that it was in February of 2020,” says State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.
All aspects of learning have changed because of COVID-19, she says, including the time of day that students typically get to let loose and relax: lunchtime.
“[The students] had to do some training,” she explains. “The school lunch people taught them that this is like a baseball game. You can’t go to second base until you’ve been to first base, so stay at first base until it’s time for your turn to move to second base.”
Those bases are representative of the marks set out to help students at Ed Clapp Elementary social distance during lunch.
The cafeteria is open at only half capacity, and all are required to stop at a hand sanitizing station before entering the kitchen.
“I see all of these students walking through here, doing their job of learning in their school environment,” Baesler smiles. “Following the rules that will keep them safe, and not only them safe but keep their moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles safe tonight when they go home.”
As multiple schools in the area report COVID-19 outbreaks, Baesler says it’s up to local leaders to make the decisions of how to move forward.
“When you drill into 53 different counties, and drill further into 173 school districts, the conditions are extremely different, and so those need to be made at a local decision.”
As the jobs of those feeding students in schools become more demanding than ever, including preparing take-home meals for those distance learning, Baesler says some things simply don’t change.
“What has remained the same is when I walked into that kitchen, I saw all of those people happily, busily smiling, and loving their work and the joy that our food service people bring to our children, and the joy that they bring to their work is never-changing,” she says.
Because of USDA’s extension of emergency feeding programs, all Fargo Public Schools students get breakfast and lunch for free.