Students at three Mililani schools got alternate lunches Friday after a school food service worker was diagnosed with mumps.
A letter sent home to parents said the alternate lunches were served at Mililani High, Mililani Uka Elementary and Mililani Waena Elementary.
"I got a call at 9:40 this morning, so that's just about an hour and 20 minutes before our first meal service," said Mililani High School principal Fred Murphy.
The state Education Department said Mililani High School's cafeteria prepares about 2,500 school lunches daily for the high school and area elementary schools.
"From the student side of things, during class we were all aware because we had a P.A. announcement that happened during class," said student body president Alyssa Yamada-Barretto. "And so they basically said that we would only have one lunch today." She said the high school usually has two lunch periods.
Lunches prepared Friday were pulled after the worker's diagnosis was confirmed.
"The infectious period was before the employee had felt symptoms, and happened to be on campus one of the days," said Murphy. "That was September 7, about a week and a half ago, during the infectious period."
"All of our food service workers follow proper health and safety procedures when preparing food and the decision to withdraw today’s lunches was made in an abundance of caution for our students’ health,” said complex area Superintendent Bob Davis. “All students were provided alternate lunches and our cafeteria facilities will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly as they are each day.”
The state has been grappling with an outbreak of mumps, which is easily spread. Health officials have said that the mumps virus cannot be easily spread through food. It is usually spread by coughing, sneezing or talking, or sharing items like cups or eating utensils.
"The employee hasn't been back here in a week and a half, but we wanted to make sure that we pulled back all the meals for today as soon as we knew, and do a deep clean in our cafeteria and serve an alternate meal," said Murphy.
School counselors and administrators scrambled to find those meals, which included hamburgers from the Burger King across the street from campus. There were also pizzas and hot dogs from four different Costco's, along with pizzas from Papa John's and Domino's. They were given to all students free of charge.
Murphy said counselors and administrators spent $3,700 to purchase the food with their own money. He wants to reimburse much of the cost from the high school's recent fund raising carnival.
Meanwhile, he said new food has been ordered and he expects lunches to be served as usual on Monday. "We were able to clear most of our employees today. They were able to call their medical providers and get that documentation for us. We do have one who will not be on campus on Monday because they're taking a blood test to prove their fitness to return to work."
The DOE's letter to parents does not say whether any students were put at risk of contracting the mumps virus.