Lunch Without the Bunch


Teagan Dooley

Indoor assigned seating during lunch concerns some students

Hailey Belval and Teagan Dooley

Weekly newsletter emails were sent to concerned students and families across the summer outlining how the school was updating their plans to tackle new issues as they presented themselves regarding returning to school during the global pandemic. 

With two extra weeks of preparatory work, the Scituate Public Schools administration held various informational Zoom meetings and created a slideshow explaining new precautionary measures taken within the building to ensure safety against Covid-19. However, one aspect regarding the return to school seemed to be overlooked: the alternative options for eating lunch. The proposed plan for lunchroom dining was that all students sit in an assigned desk within either the cafeteria or small gym, spaced six feet apart from one another. 

Many students have expressed concerns about the safety of these procedures. While some students have remained entirely remote, others have been skipping lunch altogether because of this risky arrangement. Specifically, SHS senior Caitlyn Duffey said, “Personally, I don’t feel comfortable eating in a room full of that many students, and I’ve made the choice to eat when I get home and avoid the lunchroom all together.” 

Senior Marina Glennon was very nervous about eating lunch in the cafeteria stating how it is “counterintuitive to remove your mask in a room twice the size and capacity when in a smaller room ten minutes earlier you would have gotten in trouble.” 

The school has placed very specific guidelines about students being required to wear masks at all times in the classroom to the point where drinking water must be done in the hallways, but there is a completely different set of rules when it comes to lunch. Glennon suggested, “Letting students eat in their cars is the only effective solution.” All members of our administration have prohibited students from eating in their cars out of concern that it will raise more problems–including vaping or leaving school during the day. 

Surrounding towns have made what seems to be a stronger effort to eliminate safety risks during this period. Cohasset High School has opened up multiple seating options–both inside and outside the building–so the student body is spread out, with only 20-25 students in each location. Hanover High School has installed plexiglass in between tables to help decrease direct contact. 

SHS administration has provided optional outdoor seating in two different locations. However, Assistant Principal Karen Hughes stated that “there isn’t enough space for everyone.” It is clear that there is no perfect solution to the lunch situation, and coming to school during a global pandemic was not going to be easy. As infection numbers begin to rise in Massachusetts, and as the temperatures begin to drop, eating lunch at school may become more concerning for all students.