When pupils across Tayside and Fife return to schools next month, mealtimes are among the services that are set to look drastically different to what they were before the pandemic hit.
With recommendations being given to avoid large gatherings and crowded spaces, along with the sharing of equipment and utensils to be minimised, changes are having to be made how the meal service will be delivered.
School meals across Dundee, Angus and Perth are provided by third party contractor, Tayside Contracts, which provides a variety of options for primary and secondary pupils every week.
But local authorities in these areas have instructed the catering service that they are planning to offer a cold bagged meal until at least October in a bid to ensure the safety of staff and pupils once the new academic year gets underway.
School pupils across Dundee will be served “cold bagged meals” until at least October to ensure to safety of staff and children according to the local authority.
Plans are being made to resume serving hot meals when pupils return from their October break but a full meal service may not be up and running again until the new year.
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “We are awaiting final guidelines from the Scottish Government. But taking into account the need for safety measures and circumstances in schools, we have decided that a cold bagged meal will be provided from August to October.
“It is likely that a hot bagged meal will be provided from October, with plans for full service from January.
“We will be carefully considering any new developments on guidance and will ensure that families receive up to date communications before schools resume.”
Angus council confirmed school pupils across the region will have access to meal service upon their return next month but how they will access them will depend on the school setting.
An Angus Council spokeswoman said: “We continue to plan for the return to school in August.
“All schools will be offering a school meal service, however local arrangements for delivery will vary depending on the setting.
“Plans will take account of the guidance provided to us by Scottish Government.”
PERTH AND KINROSS
Similar to Dundee, pupils across Perth and Kinross will also receive a cold bagged meal when they return to school in August.
However, they will also be offered the option of a hot snack takeaway and will be encouraged to keep their distance from each other in the dining hall.
A Perth & Kinross Council spokesman said: “Ensuring the safety of pupils and staff is a priority for Perth & Kinross Council.
“During the first week of term when pupils are making a phased return to schools a reduced meal service will operate offering a bagged cold and hot snack takeaway service, with a wider roll out of cashless payment systems developed during the operation of Children’s Activity Centres.
“When pupils are back full-time, dispersed dining will encouraged. Where dining areas are in use there will be additional supervision and cleaning in place.
“Contact between staff and pupils will be minimised to allow physical distancing and other Health and Safety guidelines to be observed. Additionally, staff will be provided with any necessary PPE.
“Contingency measures are also in place should there be a resurgence in coronavirus transmission.”
Shelag McLean, head of education with Fife Council, said: “We have plans in place, based on the current advice.
“This advice includes the recommendations that in both primary and secondary settings the preference should be to avoid large gatherings and crowded spaces and sharing of equipment and utensils should be minimised.
“Therefore, we are planning for some changes to the operation of our kitchens and school meal services to ensure that we adhere to these.
“The specific arrangements in place in each school setting are being determined locally, as each school building is different in terms of space and number of pupils.
“We’ll be giving more advice to parents and pupils before the schools going back.”