Newly implemented changes ensure students safety while cooking at school

Culinary teacher, Margaret Dieckhoff, shares how she has had to implement various changes to her classes this year to ensure the health and safety of her students.

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By Lily Godfrey

Focusing on measuring correctly, junior Leila Garcia pours milk into a measuring cup.

Payton Ross, JAG reporter/photographer

Due to COVID-19, many changes have taken place throughout the district. One of these changes includes classes involving food and cooking. Teachers and students share what these changes are and how they have impacted various classes this school year.

One such teacher whose classes have been impacted by these newly implemented food policies this school year is nutrition and wellness teacher Margaret Dieckhoff, who has had to take measures in the kitchens to ensure the health and safety of students is a priority. 

We have made a couple of changes for food labs during COVID-19. We have placed stickers on the cabinets to mark where students should stand while in the kitchens,” Dieckhoff said. , “This helps to maintain social distancing.”

However tedious these safety measures may be, senior Chloe Carson felt safe and comfortable as a result of these precautions while cooking. 

I felt safe cooking at school, we wore masks and had small cooking groups to reduce the number of people you were in contact with,” Carson said. 

Despite the changes,  Dieckhoff believes that the school and food department is very fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to cook at all this year. 

Some schools in other states have cut out cooking altogether, we are very thankful in our district that we have been able to cook with our students,” Dieckhoff said. “Kansas developed guidelines for the Family and Consumer Sciences coursework that offered many ideas and solutions so that we could continue with many of our hands-on activities.”

Comparing this school year to previous years, Carson shares how cooking classes, such as nutrition and wellness, have differed from past years this year. 

“I took nutrition and wellness freshman year, this year because of covid the class was a lot less hands-on than it would’ve been if times were normal,” Carson said.

Even though many changes have already occurred there are still more that will be made this semester. 

With all students in person now and class sizes larger I will have to make some adjustments for the spring semester,” Dieckhoff Said.”First semester I had to change many of our group projects for Nutrition and Wellness due to the different learning models and social distancing. I am hoping to work some of those back in this semester.”

Although many new changes have been implemented in Dieckhoff’s various culinary classes this year, some of these changes will remain permanent even after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I will keep the sanitizing stations in place for the plates, silverware, and glasses. Many of the recipes I will keep using as well,”  Dieckhoff said.

Despite the many changes Dieckhoff has had to implement this year, she believes it’s all worth it when she is able to see the joy that cooking in class brings her students.  Dieckhoff says she is excited we are able to move back full in-person. 

“I enjoy seeing the students’ reactions when they finally taste their final product or make something that they are proud of,” Dieckhoff said.

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