Let juniors eat lunch off campus

Benjy Chait

Given the massive enrollment in tandem with the pandemic, this year the Wilson administration has had all hands on deck trying to reduce the density of students during STEP, including implementing the infamous, yet inevitable splitting of lunch. And yet, the Wilson administration seemed to blow past the obvious option still on the table: let juniors go off-campus for lunch.

It seems like such an indisputable proposal. It’s not even a new policy! Historically, the blessing of off-campus lunch was bestowed equally upon upperclassmen alike. Somehow, this policy was lost. 

Eager juniors found their hopes crushed on the first days of school upon hearing the fateful words that they must wait until the second advisory to go off-campus for lunch. Dreams filled with mediocre, overpriced Panera mac and cheese are palpable as they float lost through the hallways (before being sucked up by a HEPA filter, of course).

One potential snag is the security line. The time it takes to reenter the building could double, and this could potentially make upperclassmen late to class. The fix to this is simple: what if Wilson operated more than one metal detector during lunch, similar to how it’s done in the morning? The allocation of but two more security officers during lunch seems like a small price to pay to potentially reduce crowding by a third. Additionally, this is a problem mitigated by the AB lunch schedule. Theoretically, it should cut the line in half by staggering the return from lunch to the building.

The other concern seems to be that students could get COVID during lunch while out at restaurants or grocery stores. How can we enforce social distancing and mask-wearing if they’re outside of Wilson? I would respond to these apprehensions by asking, does this not apply to seniors as well? The reality is that we cannot control what students do outside of school. The same is true of before and after school, when the entire student body is at leisure to make their own decisions. There’s nothing different about lunch, compared to weekends or after school, in terms of risk either of getting COVID-19 or bringing it back to school. We don’t force students to live at school 24/7 to completely isolate them from potential outbreaks, and we shouldn’t during lunch either. •