Schools closing due to COVID-19 even before students return

Local public schools are closed to students, but there are still employees working hard in those buildings every day, and some are testing positive for COVID-19.

In Prince George’s County Public Schools, about two dozen school district buildings have been closed due to COVID-19 cases in just the last month, according to a spokeswoman. She said it takes just one confirmed case to close a building for one to two days for cleaning. 

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Foodservice workers are among employees still working in school buildings, providing free meals for thousands of students.

Just this week, the federal government extended the program that provides free meals for all students. It will now last until the end of the year. After that announcement, Prince George’s Co. Public Schools served 57,000 free meals Wednesday according to a district spokeswoman.

“I’m proud of each and every one of them,” said Martin Diggs, President of ACE-AFSCME Local 2250, the union that represents food service employees. “We don’t see them, we don’t see the work that’s actually happening behind the scenes. They’re still getting up early in the morning and coming to work.”

Diggs says there needs to be improvements with notification when there are COVID cases in schools. He says there have been instances when maintenance and security workers weren’t notified that buildings were closed

“Yes, they did go into the building,” said Diggs. “The county could’ve done a better job of notifying employees that this was happening.”

FOX 5 spoke to several food service workers who say they feel their work is risky.

“Because you don’t know who’s coming in contact with who,” said Connie Miller. “I don’t want Covid and I’m sure no one else would.”

Miller and food service worker Tiwanda Berodt, said despite the risks, they feel fortunate to have a job.

“Some counties, they laid off their food nutrition and bus drivers, so it is a blessing,” said Berodt.