Cooking and Cleaning, A New Normal

Quest and Citywide Cleaning Staff Continue to Work

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As nearly 600 students gear up for the return to in-person school, Parker administration must also navigate the return of the cafeteria and cleaning staff. Employed by the third-party vendors Quest Food Services and Citywide Cleaning Inc., these decisions are not entirely up to Parker.

When Parker officially closed on March 13, 2020, 16 Quest employees worked for the school. While Executive Chef Zac Maness confirms that “Quest is dedicated to bringing as many employees back to work as possible” come fall, the numbers will have to be cut in order to compensate for foreseeable decreased cafeteria sales. According to Parker’s most recent back-to-school plans, a high population of the student body who account for most of the cafeteria’s income will not be returning in-person, meaning fewer families will be paying for daily meals.

Director of Facilities Rick Dusing assures at the time of this interview that all of Parker’s 11 full-time cleaning employees will be kept, as sanitation and cleanliness are now more important than ever. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Citywide Cleaning Inc. staff was responsible for the cleaning of restrooms, lunch spots, offices, classrooms, and other various areas of the school.

“The new COVID-19 processes will be pretty much the same except being done more frequently,” Dusing said, “which will be offset by the fact that there will be less students, faculty & staff in the building along with no sports and outside events to clean up after.”

The work being done in the cafeteria will also face significant changes, as are outlined in the food service section of the Return to School Resource – Campus Life. The new protocols vary by grade, and detail student eating location, hand washing, bringing of home lunches, and purchasing of “allergy-friendly box lunches.” 

We need to be prepared to pivot at any given time in the event that circumstances change and increased numbers of students go to distance learning”

“We need to be prepared to pivot at any given time in the event that circumstances change and increased numbers of students go to distance learning,” Maness said. He also noted the dramatic shift that will take place from a once busy kitchen producing astounding amounts of food to what will be only a percentage of the old staff working each day and no students coming through the cafeteria.

Extensive safety measures will be adopted to maintain the health and wellbeing of employees who return. These new formalities will include six feet social distancing, temperature checks, proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and thorough hand washing and sanitizing.

Dusing described the sorts of PPE Parker will be acquiring, such as gloves, masks, face shields, plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizer, non-contact thermometers, disinfecting wipes, isolation gowns, and various types of social distancing and directional floor decals.

According to Chief financial officer Bob Haugh, all Parker employees will continue to experience no change in pay as of the time of this interview. However, Haugh notes that the cleaning and cafeteria staff are solely taken care of through their third-party vendors, Citywide Cleaning Inc. and Quest Food Services..

“Our relationship is with the company and the company handles the employees,” he said. “It’s completely through them, they give us an invoice and then we pay the invoice.”

we would like everyone to do their very best they can to support our students and employees, by wearing their mask, using every precaution to provide us with the best chance to get back to normal someday soon.”

“So many people in our community have given their time and energy to the effort of getting us back to school safely,” Haugh said. “And, you know, the financial activities and results are uncertain and will be for some time, but we would like everyone to do their very best they can to support our students and employees, by wearing their mask, using every precaution to provide us with the best chance to get back to normal someday soon.”