For juniors and seniors, you might remember back before the pandemic to what lunch was usually like at school. It was everyone gathering in either cafeteria, typically 4-6 people per table. Lunch lines would stretch across the whole lunchroom for around the first 15 minutes of lunch. The hallways and outside seemed forbidden as underclassmen during lunch. But now? It wouldn’t be surprising if outside lunch is the new norm for 9-10th graders, even after the pandemic ends.
In these last warm fall days in early November, students are right back outside during lunches to enjoy these last stretches of mid 60s weather. Earlier this month, Mrs. Remensky announced to the high school students that when the cold weather fully approaches, the only places students should be eating are in the cafes, the gyms, and the lobby, nowhere else.
Due to early release, most seniors don’t think about the high school building and lunch. Even if they do stay until after lunch, it’s really likely someone’s planning a quick run to Sheetz before our next class. But for the other grades, outside lunch has been the preferred choice since day 1 of this school year. Some students sit at the picnic tables under the trees by the high school entrance, others sit down and lay back across the curb, and also others stay in the designated tables placed outside specifically for lunches.
The steadiness of cooperation from students to eat in the designated areas during lunchtime is rather surprising to me. I have heard a lot of negative comments on COVID rules and changes, such as mask enforcement for the pandemic, but eating restrictions don’t seem to be much of an issue. However, when the weather forces students to migrate back indoors, a crowding issue may arise – Outside, there are typically groups huddled around one table, generally 6+. I suspect the two-person per table limit that started August 2020 is going to be broken by several students.
During my freshman and sophomore years – pre-COVID – I remember the constant clutter of the lunchroom. It was as though tables would merge together because there were so many people sitting at or around any given table. Yet, it was a time that I had looked forward to. Nobody had an early release at the time, so it was a time when everyone in the grade would get together, and I was able to catch up with all of my friends at once. I believe that the option to sit outside should still be available post-pandemic. It is always beneficial for students to get a break from being in school during the school day, especially with the numbers of students constantly growing, the crowding in the cafeterias would be horrendous post-pandemic. The breath of fresh air would not only be good for the students to get a mental break, but also align with the space needed for students.
Once the CDC lifts all COVID restrictions, I believe that most underclassmen will still look forward to sitting outside during their lunches.
This is a good change.
Having that break from the constant noise and clutter of school is good mentally, and may even improve students’ focus when they re-enter the school after lunches.
It may be a smaller amount of students who sit outdoors, but either way, memories of the calming atmosphere and the chaotically chasing after trays and wrappers that are blown around by the wind will be something that is forever remembered from the pandemic times.