Huntsville moms frustrated by positive coronavirus cases at school feeding programs

The district has announced two coronavirus cases this week associated with the summer program.

Posted: Jul 30, 2020 7:24 PM

Some parents who rely on Huntsville City Schools to feed their kids during the summer said they're reconsidering the decision.

For the second time this week, the district announced a positive coronavirus case associated with the summer meal service. The new case is at Morris Schools. The first was at Lakewood Elementary School. Parents said they’re getting frustrated by the district's lack of answers

"I'd prefer to throw it away than risk my child's safety," parent Claudette Decoux said.

"It kind of does make me nervous. Instead of me trying to supplement, I'll just stay at home be a little bit safer."

Two moms WAAY 31 talked to Thursday said they rely on Huntsville City Schools' summer meal program to feed their daughters, but plan on making a change.

"Typically what's in a lunch is you'll have a carton of milk, you'll have an orange, you'll have some applesauce, and then you will have an individual wrapped pizza which may be wrapped in foil, or a hot dog that's wrapped in foil, or chicken nuggets that's wrapped in foil, so it's had to be manipulated by someone to be placed in the foil to be placed in the Ziploc bag," Decoux said.

"I haven't worked since March the 16th. I recently found out this program existed, and so it helps me supplement and cut costs, and that's why we are doing the program," Vanessa Holder, another parent said.

Wednesday evening on its Facebook page, the district announced someone at the Morris Schools meal site tested positive for the virus. While the site was never open this week, it's the second positive case connected to the meal program.

"I'm just not sure where the other parents are coming from or what the people who are actually serving the lunch are being exposed to. I made sure we didn't go up there specifically due to the virus," Keairra Cowan, a parent, said.

The District's Facebook post about the most recent case also stated, "There is no evidence to suggest that handling or consuming food is associated with COVID-19 according to the CDC."

Something both moms said isn't reassuring.

"It worries me. You shouldn't push that to the side because we really don't know anything about coronavirus. What you think you know about it, you really don't because things change everyday," Holder said.

"Are they gloved, are they masked? Just different things like that. What precautions are they taking to make sure nothing is transmitted when they're handling the food?" Decoux said.

In the meantime, the parents said they want better communication from the district on the safety precautions to keep students safe.

"We have lost family members due to the coronavirus. It's definitely scary. It's scary for myself especially because my child has seizures. She has epilepsy. I'd definitely reconsider what steps I need to take since you're not taking the appropriate steps," Decoux added.

Huntsville City Schools did say they went in and sanitized Lakewood Elementary after learning of the positive case. It hasn’t said anything yet about what’s being done at Morris Schools, although feeding at the site was canceled for the week prior to the district learning of the positive case.

District spokesperson Craig Williams declined an interview, stating in an auto reply email, "Our team is working to plan for Remote Learning and the first day of school, so we are unable to grant individual interview requests at this time. However, we will be reaching out soon regarding media availability with various departments."

The district sent us this statement Thursday afternoon regarding activities:

"Huntsville City Schools remains committed to promoting a safe and healthy environment for students, families, and staff members. As we have seen in North Alabama and across the state, the district is not alone in individuals experiencing cases of COVID-19. HCS is continuing to execute risk mitigation efforts such as requiring masks, recording temperatures upon entering facilities, disinfecting daily, encouraging frequent hand washing, and practicing social distancing."

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