What are the important points when children have school lunch?

This is part 41 of our coronavirus FAQ. Click here to read other installments: #Coronavirus the facts. Find the latest information and answers from experts on everything COVID-19.

All children should wash their hands before lunch

Infectious disease expert Professor Kunishima Hiroyuki of St. Marianna University School of Medicine says it's important for all children, not only those who are serving the food, to properly wash their hands with soap before lunch.

Attention on utensils

Kunishima says attention must also be paid when using utensils, such as tongs or ladles. NHK and Kunishima jointly conducted an experiment to see how the virus could spread in a buffet-style meal setting. One person rubbed fluorescent dye representing the virus on his hands and used the buffet as normal. In 30 minutes, the dye had spread through tongs, container lids and the other communal items to the hands of the other ten people using the same buffet.

Only children who serve meals should use utensils

Kunishima says the risk of infection at school lunches can be reduced if everyone properly washes their hands and wears a mask. Only the children in charge of serving meals should use the tongs or ladles.

Keep classrooms ventilated and avoid the "Three Cs"

During each meal, it is important to open classroom windows and ensure children maintain social distance. The "Three Cs" -- closed places, crowded areas, and conversations in close proximity -- should be avoided.

Kunishima says no one can wear a mask while they are eating, and children may get closer to each other at lunchtime than they would during class. He says he hopes school authorities will pay full attention to measures like room ventilation and hand-washing.

This information was accurate as of July 21, 2020.