The New Lunch System: A Necessary Safety Precaution

Sreenidhi Dharmaraj and Vivian Wang

The transition to in-person learning has been difficult—many changes have been made to student schedules to ensure the safety of students and faculty at Lexington High School, including a brand new lunch system. In past years, three lunches were spread across two blocks, but this year, four lunches have been arranged into one long block. 

According to Associate Principal Andrew Baker, the change was prompted by a blueprint from district-level leaders that instructed schools to make appropriate adjustments to fit social distancing guidelines.

The new lunch system opens up additional spaces for students to eat in and reduces the number of people eating during each lunch period. Given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new system creates a safer school environment.  

Pre-pandemic lunches would be considered unsafe with COVID-19—an airborne virus. Creating a fourth lunch gave students the space they needed to sit farther apart from each other to properly social distance. Baker explained that this extra space would not have been available with just three lunch blocks. 

Medha Morparia, a junior at LHS, said that pre-pandemic lunches in Commons I were often congested and difficult to navigate.  

“Sometimes we couldn’t even find the chair and it was hard to walk because of how crowded it was. That would probably be the case if they ever brought us back to three lunches,” Morparia said. 

The need for additional space encouraged LHS to utilize additional spaces like the gym, where students can eat with enough space to socially distance.

However, the recent cold weather has prompted more students to eat inside, and some students have observed that the indoor space is starting to feel cramped and unsafe. It also appears that students may not practice social distancing, even when given the opportunity. 

“Everyone’s super close together and it’s just a closed space with people eating, which is not safe at all,” Morparia said. “The gym is not enough space and the Commons are also pretty gross. Even though they move the desks to give us space, everyone just moves the desks anyway so that they can actually see people and be social.” 

Although this arrangement raises concerns about the effectiveness of the current measures, it is unreasonable to expect the school to manage each individual’s actions during lunch. 

“I’m not going around with a measuring tape and putting it between students, but the idea is, if we opened up more spaces around the school, students would probably go to more spaces and spread out more, which is better for the pandemic,” Baker said.

It is apparent that the school has recognized the flaws in the system and is currently working on ways to balance out the schedule. 

“As long as we can meet the safety thresholds that we want for students, we’ll tweak the schedule however we can to make it more bearable for students and teachers,” Baker said

Considering the restrictions the school faces due to the public health crisis and overcapacity concerns, the four-lunch system mitigates the spread of COVID-19 better than previous solutions. There are still ongoing discussions about the lunch system and the schedule in general within the school. Teachers and students have expressed their opinions to the administration, and all voices are being considered in the decision-making process moving forward.

“We have a pretty good amount of protection right now, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you just, unfortunately, can’t take anything for granted, and you have to be ready to pivot if you need to pivot,” Baker said.

*As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, administration has discussed revising the LHS schedule to reflect the current climate. It is possible that we will return to a schedule with three lunch blocks at some point in the coming months.*