No nail polish, bangles for mid-day meal workers, says education ministry protocol
As schools across the country get ready to open in a graded manner from mid-October, the Union education ministry has issued guidelines for the safe preparation and delivery of mid-day meals to schoolchildren. The ministry has ordered staggered timings for serving the meals to avoid crowding and said the food should be prepared in a hygienic manner and those cooking it should avoid wearing rings, bangles, or even nail polish.
It has made it the responsibility of the district or the block level administrations to ensure that none of the mid-day meal workers are Covid-19 positive.
Cooks and helpers involved will have to give self-declarations about the well-being of themselves and their families before starting their work in schools. They will also be thermally scanned before allowed inside schools. Wearing of masks has been made mandatory for them.
“Nail polish or artificial nails should not be worn because they can become foreign bodies and may compromise on food safety. No watches, rings, jewellery, and bangles should be worn during cooking, serving, and distribution as there is a danger of contamination of the product,” says the education ministry protocol.
Spitting and nose blowing would be strictly prohibited. Cooks and helpers would be provided adequate and suitable clean protective aprons and headgears. The protocol has emphasised the use of clean utensils.
The guidelines say that vegetables should be washed thoroughly with a combination of salt and turmeric or 50 ppm chlorine (or equivalent solution) and clean potable water.
They suggest meals should be served in batches to ensure physical distancing.
In case staggering distribution is not possible, children could be served the meals in their respective classrooms. Clear markings should guide the children to the seating arrangement, the guidelines say and add the temperature of the meals should be maintained at least at 65°C. The food has to be served immediately after it is cooked.
Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said states and union territories can form their own protocols based on their guidelines.