Modifying School Spaces During Mealtimes to Reduce Spread of COVID-19

By using prevention measures listed in Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools, school administrators can work with teachers, building managers, school nutrition staff, and custodians to modify mealtime school spaces to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Besides modifying the physical space, schools can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during meal service by:

  • Maintaining physical distance between students when picking up meals and when eating.
  • Ensuring students wear a mask when picking up meals and when finished eating.
  • Improving ventilation including bringing in fresh, outdoor air.
  • Ensuring proper handwashing or use of hand sanitizer before and after eating.
  • Staggering mealtimes for class cohorts.
  • Expanding disinfection or sanitization practices to include makeshift food surfaces (such as desks) between each use.

The graphics below depict sample layouts showing how to apply the recommended mealtime modifications in various settings—one for cafeterias, two for outdoor spaces, and one for classrooms if at least 6 feet of physical distance can be maintained. These strategies can also be used in other spaces, such as the gymnasium or auditorium. For more complete guidance on school meal distribution procedures, see What School Nutrition Professionals Need to Know about COVID-19.

Download all diagrams [PDF – 901 KB].