Back this spring when Kansas went into lockdown due to COVID-19, no one was sure of what would happen next. Movie theaters and restaurants were closed with no definite date on when they would reopen. For Kapaun Mt. Carmel, school went fully online and no students were allowed into the building. Now that school is open again with a brand new hybrid schedule in order, school custodians and cafeteria workers are taking on a big responsibility they must tackle head on.
Pat Martinez, Daytime Facilities Assistant at KMC, is optimistic. He believes that the school is well equipped to handle fighting the virus.
“I feel confident in the school,” Martinez said. “The administration and teachers are going out of their way to help.”
Esther Flores, cashier and baker at KMC, describes the different measures the cafeteria workers have taken to keep the students safe.
“The food is individually packaged,” Flores said. “We are washing our hands, not eating anything in the kitchen, and doing the best we can do to keep all the kids safe. It is hard to keep the kids distanced, but we are trying. Sometimes they get into groups, so we have to tell them to keep distanced and tell them not to handle the food.”
Junior Chioma Iwunoh thinks the new lunch situation is being handled nicely.
“It’s very sanitary,” said Iwunoh. “The lunch ladies are handling the situation very well because they are focused on every child getting their food and getting out of the lunch area quickly.”
Junior Max Ercolani also believes the new lunch system is being handled appropriately.
“I think the lunch system is great,” said Ercolani. “I like being able to get food from the concession stand and being able to pay with my ID. I think it’s a lot faster and the food still tastes great!”
Denise Unruh, Cafeteria Manager and chef, describes the regulations she and her crew follow.
“The Café is following all the guideline that have been put forth by the CDC. We wear face masks and gloves at all times.”
Unruh describes the struggles the new schedule imposes on cafeteria workers.
“When students have a choice to leave at eleven or come later in the afternoon, we are challenged with not knowing how much to prepare daily,” said Unruh.
“We are also offering lunch from the concession stand to help with social distancing. This is a challenge for us because we have the same number of staff but we are spread out with the two locations.”
Flores does her best to make students happy as they come through the lunch line.
“I love the kids,” said Flores. “I try to give them a smile if I can tell they look sad for some underlying reason.”
Flores tries her best to socially distance outside of school so that she won’t get sick herself or infect anyone else.
“I’m not scared of getting sick, because I’m trying my best to keep away from everything,” said Flores. “I don’t go out when there’s lots of people. Mostly, my trips are the grocery store and my job; that’s it.”
Martinez is confident that he can be safe at KMC.
“I am high risk because of my health history, and I’m scared, but you know what? As long as I wear my plastic gloves and mask every day and wash my hands every time I have to spray the bathrooms down, and use hand sanitizer, I’ll be fine,” said Martinez. “I mean, the kids have to go back to school, and Kapaun is a good place to work, a good place to be.”