New Options at Gates: Mask Flexible and Free Breakfast


Gates students Brennan Lozano and Robert Fenton enjoy breakfast at school

David Stanley and Ethan Blanks

With the rise of Covid-19, students across the nation have had to wear masks and distance themselves from each other, throwing a wrench into the everyday learning environment they had come to know. Yet, as the vaccine became accessible to many high schoolers, students at Gates Middle School had to continue to wait for their opportunity to get vaccinated.

Similarly, at Scituate High School, masking has been optional for quite some time because of the vaccination status reaching over the 80% mark. Gates, yet again, had not yet reached the 80% vaccination status; they were hovering around a 77% vaccination rate due to their 6th-grade students being outside of the vaccination age range. After Superintendent Bill Burkhead announced that all schools district-wide would be going mask flexible in compliance with Governor Charlie Baker’s dropping of the 80% vaccination threshold, Gates students were finally able to have their mask flexible experience. 

Gates Assistant Principal Samantha Lesniak stated, “Originally, the state said we could take the masks off once the school hits 80% vaccination rate. Gates has been hovering around about 77%.” She explained that “the governor rescinded that, therefore enabling districts to make whatever decisions they want to make. A few days later, the superintendent made a mandate that the whole district was going mask flexibly.” 

Eighth-grader Cullen Moran noted that since masks became optional, he doesn’t feel much of a difference while at Gates except “people seem to be talking a lot more socially, and things generally feel like they are going back to normal.” For many students, masks are a barrier to simple non-verbal interactions, and the addition of the mask can cause an awkward barrier that can deplete confidence for students. As a result, students removing their masks allows for a returned sense of normal that helps students feel comfortable. Seventh-grader Cole Ryan agrees that masks coming off is a positive step,  adding, “You can understand everyone better, and it’s good to see people’s faces.”

Recently at Gates, students welcomed another new perk: the implementation of free breakfast. According to the school administration, this is extremely helpful for students who are going through different situations where they can’t get breakfast before school. Moran commented, “It’s good for people who either can’t get breakfast or don’t have time in the morning to eat breakfast.” Although this program just started, Lesniak explained it has been an idea since before Covid hit: “Mr. Beattie and I have been wanting to initiate a breakfast program for a long time.” She added, “We used to have it at the Old Gates for a long time, and with the changes to the new building, it just didn’t happen, so it was actually something we talked about pre-Covid.” Lesniak said she’s “literally seen students eat their turkey sandwich at 7:30 in the morning” and feels the option of free breakfast at school will be beneficial in more ways than one.