Durham Public Schools ending meal distribution program after employee tests positive for coronavirus


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham Public Schools officials say they are ending their meals distribution program after an employee in the district tested positive for coronavirus.

County officials cited the need to keep staff safe and well as a reason why meals will no longer go out.

Durham Public Schools will make its last meal distribution on Monday.

On Friday, meal deliveries will go on as scheduled to the more than 67 school and community sites listed on the DPS website. On Monday, DPS will distribute a week’s worth of children’s lunches to the following school sites:

  • Bethesda Elementary
  • R.N. Harris Elementary
  • Shepard Middle School
  • Githens Middle
  • Southwest Elementary
  • Lakewood Middle
  • Eno Valley Elementary
  • Eastway Elementary
  • Glenn Elementary
  • Sandy Ridge Elementary
  • Hillandale Elementary
  • Club Blvd Elementary School
  • Southern High School

On Thursday, a DPS employee tested positive for COVID-19.

This is the first confirmed case affecting a DPS employee or student, officials say. The employee was involved in food and instructional materials distribution through the Bethesda Elementary site.  

Since beginning the food distribution program on March 23, DPS says it has strengthened protections for staff and families, including more stringent social distancing requirements, aggressive cleaning, and closing most DPS work sites.

DPS says the employee did not come to work after taking a COVID-19 test, and DPS was notified of the results late Wednesday night.

DPS says the Bethesda site produces 400-500 meals for various feeding sites serving about 100 meals directly. DPS Operational Services is evaluating what adjustments will need to be made to the feeding program as a result.

“Our highest priority is to keep our students, families, and staff safe during this COVID-19 response,” said DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga. “We continue to be grateful to all of our staff who have been supporting our students by providing school meals and instructional materials, and we will continue to strengthen our programs to ensure that they operate safely for all.”

In the feeding program’s first week of operations:

  • DPS served 27,857 lunches and 27,854 snacks for a total of 55,711 meals at 81 sites.
  • DPS buses drove more than 5,315 miles to deliver food and 43,605 packets of instructional materials.
  • More than 400 hourly/classified employees participated in some capacity with daily food distribution.
  • DPS partnered with the DPS Foundation and related community partners to provide close to 8,000 meals over two weekends. DPSF and partners raised more than $110,000 from 840 donors for meals and other direct supports.

COVID-19 timeline

  • March 3: NCDHHS announces state’s first COVID-19 case
  • March 10: Gov. Roy Cooper declares State of Emergency
  • March 11: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic
  • March 13: President Donald Trump declares a National Emergency
  • March 14: Cooper issues Executive Order 117 closing K-12 public schools until at least March 30 and banning gatherings of more than 100 people
  • March 16: NCDHHS recommends no mass gatherings for more than 50 people
  • March 17: Cooper issues Executive Order 118 limiting operations of restaurants and bars, and broadening unemployment insurance benefits
  • March 23: Cooper issues Executive Order 120 which closes public K-12 schools through May 15 and orders businesses such as barbershops and salons to close.
  • March 25: North Carolina reports its first coronavirus-related deaths 
  • March 29: Trump extends social distancing orders through the end of April
  • March 31: Cooper signs Executive Order 124 which prohibits utilities from disconnecting people who are unable to pay during the pandemic.

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North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline: 1-866-462-3821


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