Following a site inspection the Oak Bluffs board of health did not renew a certificate for the Martha’s Vineyard High School’s culinary arts program, but school officials said the program has continued to operate with the approval of the board of health.
School principal Stephen Nixon told the Gazette Thursday that the board of health came in during the school year to do a regular site inspection at the culinary arts kitchen (which is separate from the school cafeteria), and felt the kitchen was not in compliance.
Mr. Nixon said the program was allowed to continue to operate and school officials have been working with the town to become compliant.
“We’re in the process of working with them because some issues are different for us because it’s a teaching and learning environment,” he said.
Mr. Nixon said that when he heard the certificate was not renewed, his first question was whether students could still prepare and serve food. The answer, he said, was yes.
Vocational program director Jeff Rothwell said the health department was due to come back to the school for another inspection next week.
Mr. Rothwell emphasized that the culinary arts kitchen at the school is a classroom where students with varying degrees of training learn about food preparation, from freshmen to seniors that hope to go to culinary school. The students serve meals occasionally at the culinary arts dining room to senior citizens or for special events.
“Anything that deals with food safety is not something we want to make light of,” he said. “It’s an ongoing concern, an educational concern, the cleanliness of the kitchen.”
But at the same time, “They wouldn’t let us operate if they were concerned that people’s health was a problem,” he said.