A second cafeteria worker in East Baton Rouge Parish schools, this time a worker at Woodlawn Elementary, has tested positive to the new coronavirus, leading the school system to hand over meal service at multiple sites to a nonprofit group in Baton Rouge.
Starting Monday, the nonprofit group, Three O’Clock Project, began serving hot meals from Woodlawn Elmentary, 8160 Antioch Road, but is doing so from the school’s parking lot — the nonprofit is not entering the facility — while the school building itself undergoes a deep clean.
In addition to Woodlawn Elementary, the Three O'Clock Project has taken over meals at four more schools where the school system has been operating feeding sites in-house — Northeast Elementary, Progress Elementary, Scotlandville Middle and Wildwood Elementary. Three O'Clock Project will continue serving hot meals at those four locations as well as Woodlawn Elementary through Thursday.
The nonprofit also reopened service Monday at McKinley Middle, which stopped service last week after a cafeteria worker there tested positive, and will serve hot meals there until April 15.
Taylor Gast, a spokeswoman for the school system, said fellow employees of the worker at Woodlawn Elementary were notified late Sunday night and they are being directed to self-isolate themselves.
"Our thoughts and prayers remain with this employee and all others battling this virus," Gast said in a news release. "We are grateful to our child nutrition staff for putting themselves on the front lines every day to feed our children."
The shift to Three O'Clock Project means the East Baton Rouge Parish school system’s Child Nutrition program is no longer preparing and serving meals. On Friday, the school system announced that Ballard Hospitality of Covington would gradually assume control of most of the food service and also shifting to handing out several days worth of prepackaged meals at a time. Ballard is continuing with the sites and service it had previously agreed to.
The Three O'Clock Project, known previously for serving after-school meals, has emerged as leading student meal service since schools were order to close March 13. In addition to East Baton Rouge, the nonprofit serves meals at sites in Jefferson, Orleans and Plaquemine parishes. This week, it's adding sites in Assumption, Iberville and St. Landry parishes, and next week is adding stops in Ascension Parish.
The Woodlawn Elementary employee is the second food service worker and the third employee overall that the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has publicly reported testing positive for the virus, which has shut down all schools in Louisiana for at least six weeks.