EIS enacts a safe but secluded lunch schedule


Students were sitting six feet apart during lunch due to Covid precautions.

When will the COVID-19 pandemic end? For many people, it feels like Covid-19 will always be a part of their daily life. This pandemic started in China with an outbreak in late December of 2019, and entered the United States in January of 2020. Donald Trump, former President of the United States, declared a National Emergency on March 13, 2020, a day which many people remember very clearly.

Edison Intermediate School (EIS) Eighth grade English Language Arts teacher Mrs. Erin Meade recalled, “The day before our school closed due to the pandemic, I was very panicked. I went to Dr. Bolton’s office to talk to him about my concerns because I was worried we weren’t safe. Then they closed the next day. It was crazy!”

Flash-forward to today: EIS’ situation is better, but still not ideal. EIS students are in school full time everyday which seems like a normal school schedule, but due to the most recent variant of COVID-19, called Omicron, daily lunch has changed significantly. Instead of one 40 minute period where all students of each grade eat in the cafeteria simultaneously, all grades will have 20/20 lunch. A temporary lunch program written out by EIS Principal Dr. Matthew Bolton explained, “Half the grade will eat during the first half of the lunch period while the other half of the grade is either in their lunch/study or outside for recess.” 

This new schedule has been put in place to ensure the safety of unmasked students when eating lunch by increasing the distance between each one. This means that if a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, whoever they are eating nearby does not have to be quarantined from being in close contact, since they are an adequate distance apart. EIS Assistant Principal Mrs. LaNova Schall discussed this in a lunchtime assembly. She stated the only time EIS students were sent home due to close-contacts was during lunch. This meant the previous lunch schedule was not working, and a significant change was needed.

While this new lunch schedule has worked to keep everyone safe, it has gained some opposition from students. EIS sixth grader Sarah Ye claimed, “It kind of upsets me a little bit, especially 20 minutes of lunch. I like how everyone is spread apart, but it’s just 20 minutes. I have a lot of friends who can’t finish eating in time.”

This illustrates the concerns of students while trying to eat lunch in this new schedule. There is no additional time given to finish lunch, so once the 20 minutes is up and students return to their classrooms or go outside, they are required to stop eating.

Due to these circumstances, EIS sixth grader Shreya Swamy suggested a way to switch things up every so often. She offered, “Maybe not everyone should eat at the same place every single day. Like we could just swap things once a week. We could go to one place, and then the next week we could go to a different one.” 

 This is just one example of adjustments that can be made to make the new schedule fit students’ needs. There have been several resurges of COVID-19, including the Delta and Omicron variants, and with each one EIS has modified its policies for the safety of their students. EIS seventh grade student Mahie Panjwani admitted, “I’m not really a fan of the 20 minutes for lunch, but I do see why it is necessary and I think it will have an effect on eventually being able to hopefully go back to a normal school schedule.”

At the time of publication, EIS updated the lunch schedule to go back to the original Covid plan on February 14th. This means students will eat 3-feet apart in classrooms, the cafeteria, or outside during good weather.