COVID-19 changes cafeteria experiences

After two months back in school, many students have struggled with anxiety and returned to the social world. In high school, the lunchroom is a breeding ground for meeting new people, but the pandemic makes it harder for students to want to be in the cafeteria. 

Some students who are uncomfortable eating in the cafeteria eat lunch in the outdoor patio area.

SECLUDED: A group of girls sits outside for lunch during the additional 5th period. The outside eating area is the most deserted area during lunch. “They should advise going outside or promote going outside. Like they don’t do it at all,” Jada Hunter says. Photo by Eva Lucero.

“Like, there’s Corona, we need to be outdoors. You probably can recommend sitting outside with some signs.” sophomore Jada Hunter said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that you are less likely to contract COVID-19 outside even without the use of masks. When outside, fresh air is constantly moving whereas droplets and aerosols can stay in the air for minutes to hours indoors.

Cedar Shoals added an additional fifth lunch period from 1:40 to 2:00 to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the cafeteria.

“They already made a separate lunch. I mean, it looks like there is no solution either way,” sophomore Jada Thomas said. 

Like in the hallway, there are no promotions of social distancing in the cafeteria. Students don’t always stay at the same lunch table every day. Regarding contact tracing, classrooms and buses have seating charts to determine close contacts of positive cases. Tracking close contacts during lunch is challenging when students are unmasked while eating and do not use a seating chart.

“There is really no promoting really, and I think there should be more distance between tables,” sophomore Zachary Jarrett said. 

Social distancing isn’t enforced efficiently in the compact cafeteria which is why we should implement the outside area even more. There are also some who believe that the decision to social distance should be up to the students and there is nothing else administrators can evade. 

“No there isn’t any social distancing in the cafeteria, (some) days you can’t find a seat and my whole table is packed. I wouldn’t say they don’t care since they added the fifth lunch, but I don’t think there is anything else they could do to spread it out. They already gave us the advice to get vaccinated and to wear masks. It’s up to us.” sophomore Delysia Griffith said.

Administrators addressed this question last month in a press conference with BluePrints staff.

“We are trying to do our best job as we can to isolate, but we realize that certain factors are out of our hands,” Principal Antonio Derricote said. 

Aissatou Sarr

Sophomore Aissatou Sarr is a new staff writer for BluePrints Magazine. She would like to one day be an orthodontist or potentially a journalist. Sarr likes to write books for fun in her free time. With this being her first year as a part of the staff, Sarr would like to improve her writing skills. She appreciates the dedication that her peers in journalism put into their work.