2020-2021 Return-to-School Info & COVID-19

Traditional Model - Released 7/10/20

Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not find the information you need in this document, please contact the central office at 706-253-1700. This information is subject to change based on guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH) and other health officials.

School Nutrition

1. Where will my child eat lunch?
Schools will vary based on the number of students in attendance and how many can safely be accommodated in the cafeteria and meet the social distancing requirement. In general, we will split the population at each school with half of the students in each lunch period; on a rotating pattern eating in the cafeteria and half eating in the classroom or outside, weather permitting.

All students will have the opportunity to come through the serving line to select their meal choices. Cafeteria meals will be available in to-go bags or trays for students eating in the classroom. Your child’s school will share specific plans with you before school starts.
2. Where will my child eat breakfast?
Schools will vary on locations for where breakfast meal service is located and where students eat breakfast. In most schools, students will either be able to eat breakfast in the cafeteria, with social distancing measures in place, or pick up a grab–n-go breakfast bag on the way to their classrooms and eat there. Your child’s school will share specific plans with you before school starts.
3. What extra steps are you taking to create a safe cafeteria environment?
All School Nutrition Staff, who are already trained in food handling safety, will follow increased safety measures. Cafeteria staff will be wearing masks and gloves at all times when serving customers. Cafeteria employees will be asked to check their temperatures prior to their shifts.

Plexiglass shields will be installed on all cashier point-of-sale stations to enhance safety. In locations where there is cross traffic of students entering or exiting the serving lines, mobile Plexiglas partitions will be set-up.

All menu items will be individually packaged for students to choose as they walk through the serving line. This will be for both meals eaten in the cafeteria, as well as meals taken to the classroom for dining.

The breakfast and lunch menus will be modified to feature only one hot and one cold entrée option each day to accelerate quicker meal service for students coming through the line.
4. Will water fountains be in use in the cafeteria?
Water fountains that have the bottle-filler feature will still be in operation at the school. We do strongly encourage water bottles be sent with students to stay hydrated throughout the day. In the cafeteria, students will be provided with a cup of water upon request.
5. What interaction will students have with the cashier when the meal is accounted for?
All student interactions at the cashier will be hands-free. Students will not enter their Student ID number on the pin pad.

Elementary Schools
At breakfast, students will tell the cashier their name or Student ID number, and the cashier will enter it on the Point of Sale touch screen. At lunch, students come through by homeroom so the cashier will bring up the homeroom on the Point-of-Sale screen and click on each student that picks up a meal.

Secondary Schools
Barcode Scanners will be in place in the cafeteria at all secondary schools at Point-of-Sale for meal service. Students will be issued a meal card containing a bar code with their Student ID. Students will position their meal card at the laser scanner for the cashier to enter their meal at Point-of-Sale. If a student forgets to bring their meal card, they can tell the cashier their name and/or Student ID number and the cashier will key that information into the Point-of-Sale touch screen.
6. How will students pay for meals?
We encourage parents/guardians to pay for meals in advance when possible through MyPaymentsPlus our online meal payment system. Parents will need their child’s Student ID to set-up an account. The link is here: https://www.mypaymentsplus.com/welcome

We will continue to accept cash or check payment at the school, however we ask that the money/check be sent in an envelope with the student’s name, Student ID and the amount enclosed on the outside. At elementary schools, teachers will collect all student prepayments each morning and send them to the cafeteria manager prior to the lunch meal service so that students do not have to bring the money to the lunch room. This helps to speed up the serving line to enable students to quickly pick up their meals.

For secondary students, although we encourage payment in advance through MyPaymentsPlus, we will accept payment at the Point-of-Sale from the student. We do request the money be put in an envelope with the student’s name, Student ID number and amount enclosed, written on the outside. This will help to minimize the handling of currency for students, and enable the cashier to quickly post the payment to the student’s account.
7. Will I be permitted to each breakfast or lunch with my child at school?
Until further guidance is received from the Department of Public Health (DPH), visitors will not be allowed to eat with students.
8. What additional safety measures will be implemented when students come to the cafeteria for lunch?
Handwashing for students will be encouraged prior to and after meals. Additionally, there will be hand sanitizer stations set-up at the entrance to each cafeteria for students to use prior to coming through the serving line.

Added cafeteria safety measures include utilization of paper/plastic products and prepackaged flatware and napkins. Condiments will be available upon request at the Cashier Point-of-Service stations.

There will be increased distancing in serving and seating, and increased cleaning and sanitation of all frequently touched surfaces.

Virtual School Setting or Distance Learning Model

9. If my student is enrolled in the Pickens County Virtual School option can they still get school meals?
An online order system will be set up for families that want to pre-order meals for weekly pick up at their child’s school. Meals will need to be paid for in advance. More details on this service will be provided to the families/households that enroll in Pickens Virtual Academy.
10. If traditional schools are closed, will my student still be able to receive meals while participating in distance learning?
Meals will be provided to students during distance learning. Specific details for meal delivery through school buses and/or pick-up will be provided at the time distance learning is needed for the district.


1. Will bus drivers wear a mask?
Yes, all bus drivers will wear a mask or face shield while driving the bus.
2. Will students wear a mask?
It is strongly recommended that all students wear a mask when riding the bus.
3. How and when will buses be disinfected?
High-touch areas on the buses will be disinfected after every morning and afternoon route.
4. How will students load/unload the bus?
Students will load from the back to the front and unload from the front to the back.
5. Will students have assigned seats?
Yes, students will have an assigned seat. Students with siblings or other family members riding the same bus will be assigned seats together.
6. Will buses have hand sanitizer available?
All buses will have hand sanitizer available for use before loading the bus.
7. What about ventilation on the buses?
All buses will operate with several windows opened to 1 inch to help aid in air circulation, as well as running the air conditioning.

Facilities and Cleaning

1. Will there be hand sanitizer available to students?
Multiple sanitizing stations will be made available through the school buildings and in each classroom.
2. What items are considered high-touch areas and how frequently will they be cleaned?
High-touch area examples include door handles, vending machines, push bars on doors, desks/table tops, and keyboards. These areas will be cleaned frequently throughout the day.
3. Will water fountains be available for students to use?
Water fountains are not available but if schools are equipped with touchless refill stations, those may be used. Students are encouraged to bring a water bottle from home. Students may also request a cup for water in the school cafeteria during their meal.
4. How frequently will bathrooms be cleaned in the school?
Bathrooms will be monitored throughout the day for toilet paper, paper towels, and soap. Bathrooms will be disinfected each night.
5. How often will my child’s classroom be cleaned?
Cleaning wipes will be supplied to teachers/staff to use throughout the day. The evening custodial crew will be responsible for disinfecting desks and high-touch areas in the classroom every night.
6. What kind of reminders will be posted regarding hand washing and use of hand sanitizer?
There will be signage throughout the facility explaining prevention techniques, hygiene, and expected behaviors. Teachers will also work with students to teach them proper handwashing techniques, especially at the elementary level.
7. How will you encourage those who are not well to stay out of the building?
Visitors are limited within the building. Those who need to enter will see “Stay home if sick” and “Do Not Enter If…” notices that will be posted at each entrance.
8. Will the playground be sanitized?
Safe and effective cleaner will be provided to school staff to use to spray equipment following recess.
9. Will staff be trained in proper cleaning methods?
Training will be provided to teachers and staff on assisting with cleaning shared areas and equipment.
10. Are masks required to be worn?
Masks are strongly encouraged for all school-level employees and students. One reusable mask will be provided to each student and staff member.
11. If someone is in the building and becomes sick, is there a place for them to go for assistance?
There will be an isolation room available at each school. Staff providing care to individuals with suspected COVID-19 will be provided additional personal protective equipment (PPE).