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School Letter for Safer School Lunches

Good morning,

Add friendly greeting and text here – your kid is excited about school, etc. 

It’s clear that you are trying hard to keep our kids safe in what might be an impossible situation. 

While I’m not a scientist, I have been following some of the research and recommendations from aerosol scientists on Twitter and these are the things I’ve learned. I’m sharing because these are the things that can make a HUGE difference in decreasing how much of the virus is in the air. Lunch is probably the riskiest time of the school day right now since Covid is airborne and transmitted by aerosol inhalation. The virus is in the air and at lunchtime the kids are indoors and unmasked.

  1. Fresh air is your best weapon!
    • Outdoor lunch is ALWAYS best!
    • Utilize outdoor space at lunch (they can even bring towels to sit on outside like some schools did during spring and summer).
    • Request/buy more tents.
    • Hire as many monitors as you can and use them to get the kids outside for lunch.
    • Open the windows, even a few inches helps a lot.
    • Add portable HEPA filters or DIY low-cost (less than $100 each) Corsi/Rosenthal boxes to the room (many schools/parent groups are making these around the country).
    • Run HVAC with more outdoor air and less recirculated air. 
    • Flush out the air in between staggered lunch groups.
    • Ask for parent volunteers for 1-3 hour slots to serve as monitors to get lunch moved outside or shared with the gym. Even parents who work full time might be able to do a daily/weekly slot if 1-2 hours.
  1. More talking = more virus in the air
    • Incentivize kids to be quiet while eating and wait to chat until their masks are back on. 
    • Tables can compete for points to earn rewards like pajama day (and rewards that do not include eating together).
    • Put up big signs that encourage kids. They could say things like, “Eat First! Mask up! Talk to friends!”
    • Add signage to windows and doors that say they should be open when children are present.
  1. Strive for the fewest kids in the biggest space possible
    • Space them out as much as possible.
    • Utilize outdoor space at lunch (they can even bring towels to sit on outside like some schools did during spring and summer).
    • If PE can be outside but for some reason lunch can’t, half the kids could eat in the gym.
    • Classroom space can be used for lunch too. They could spread out and open windows, utilize portable HEPA filters, etc.
  1. Make lunch as short as possible
    • Free lunches this year mean that the kids do not have to go through the lunch line. 
    • You could use part of that time to put lunches on tables or bring them to classrooms and air out the cafeteria between groups.

Thank you again for everything you’re doing to keep our kiddos safe! If there’s anything I can do to assist with implementing any of these ideas, please just let me know. I’ve included some additional resources below.



Additional Resources

Delta Concerns of U.S. School Reopenings and Reducing Airborne Transmission 

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID19 in Classrooms

Opinion: As an aerosol scientist, I know schools need masks, HEPA filters and outdoor lunches

Parents worried about Covid in schools have an easy weapon at hand, experts say — fresh air 

Air Purifiers, Fans, and Filters: A COVID-19 Explainer for Schools

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Guidance for Reopening Schools

DIY Air Filters For Classrooms? Experts Are Enthusiastic — And A Citizen Scientist Makes It Easy 

Plans to build Corsi/Rosenthal boxes: 

Mega thread on Corsi-Rosenthal boxes: 

Last reviewed on January 16, 2023

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