School catering staff fear they are being left in dark over plans to bring pupils back full time in August.
Stephanie Smith, who works at Morgan Academy as an assistant cook, is one of those who is hoping for more clarity over how school meals will be provided once pupils return to schools next month.
She spoke of how there is a feeling among catering staff that they had been “forgotten about” by the local and national authorities in their planning for pupils returning to school full time, with plans still to be confirmed less than a month before the new term is set to begin.
Stephanie, who also acts as a rep for the GMB union, said: “It’s been very chaotic. We are not getting anything filtered back to us and when the government have been doing their meetings it’s always been with the teaching union and not GMB (who represents catering and cleaning staff).
“When they speak about getting the schools back, it’s focused on the teachers and the pupils but we are part of it also as we have to be there to provide some sort of meal.
“People don’t know what they are going back to, whether they will get to go back to their own school and working with the same people or what the PPE situation will be like so the mood is really low.”
The assistant cook says conflicting messages on the return to school plans have left catering staff in the dark about how their roles may change in the coming months.
She added: “It’s really frustrating. Up until a few days before the schools came off, we were working towards the blended learning and then it was announced the pupils would be returning full time.
“And now they are saying the decision is going to be made at the end of the month.
“All I have seen is that Dundee City Council, along with Perth and Kinross and Angus, are wanting cold bagged meals up until October. But I have heard that we may need to deliver these meals to the classrooms so I’m not sure how this will impact us.
“Also, if it’s going to be cold bagged meals then they won’t be cooking as much. My job role predominantly involves making cakes and things like that, so am I going to be needed?
“Ironically, we’ve also been told that we can’t wear masks because of food hygiene.”
In a statement, the Scottish Government thanked school catering staff for the work they have done since lockdown began and confirmed more guidance would be given soon.
A government spokeswoman said: “We are grateful to catering staff who have been working hard to provide meals for children during the pandemic.
“Arrangements for school meals in the new term will be made by councils and schools according to local needs and taking account of necessary public health measures. We expect local authorities to work with staff on this.
“Guidance on health measures that will be required when schools re-open will be published soon.”