The Orangeburg County School District said it was unable to create take-out meals for students as the district temporarily transitions to 100% virtual learning.
“Due to staff shortages and the inability to access the necessary ready-to-eat foods and containers, we regret that take-out meals cannot be prepared and distributed to students prior to virtual learning and working days. tomorrow and Friday,” the district said in an official statement released Wednesday.
All district schools are going to virtual learning on Thursday and Friday due to the increase in COVID cases. Students and teachers will be at home.
Students and staff are expected to return on January 18.
“The spike in COVID-19-related absences among our education, nursing and school catering employees this week has been particularly challenging,” the statement said. “Earlier this week, we transitioned several schools to a 100% virtual learning model and transferred available nurses and school food service employees from those campuses to assist other schools in an effort to keep operations going. person in as many schools as possible.
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In its statement, the district noted that COVID absences have continued to climb.
“More than 20% of our school lunch service employees are currently unable to work because they have tested positive for the coronavirus or are quarantined due to potential exposure,” according to the district. “The continued impact of the pandemic on the food supply chain has resulted in food shortages.”
“Our food supply vendors have done their best to support our continued operations, but are struggling to meet demand for disposable containers and ready-to-eat foods,” the district said.
The district said it has “made tremendous efforts to ensure the continuation of comprehensive educational, social-emotional, and nutritional services for our students and their families throughout the pandemic.
“Recognizing the impact the coronavirus has had on the lives of families in Orangeburg, our employees have worked tirelessly to provide the best possible support for the children.
The district noted that transportation and school food crews worked together with others to provide students with regular meals during school closures.
Additionally, “thanks to the generosity of community partners and our own employees who volunteered their time, we held seven food distribution events and stuffed thousands of food items into backpacks to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. ‘food insecurity over the past year,’ the district said.