Why We Should Go Back to a 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Schedule


The bell rings, and students stream into the cafeteria, finding seats, and getting into lunch lines. Everywhere, students chat to friends and eat while sitting elbow to elbow at tables. This is not a snapshot of lunch everyday before the pandemic, but rather it is one of this school year’s. 

The new precautions taken this year include plexiglass dividers at tables, smaller lunch groups and assigned seating. However, the use of the dividers and assigned seating has not been strictly enforced, with tables often having missing or misplaced dividers. In addition, students do not have assigned seats, free to switch where they sit from day to day. This, when added with the lack of divider use, leads to the above situation. Students sitting shoulder to shoulder, free to switch seats from day to day. Instead of having to try and contact trace where students sit at lunch in case of a student catching COVID, the school should switch back to last year’s schedule. Students attend shortened classes, and are able to grab-and-go lunch before leaving the building at 1 p.m.. 

Although theoretically assigned seating would allow for easier contact tracing, it is already hard enough to do so with cases of students not fully wearing their masks while moving from class to class. However, the administration has done a good job of limiting the contact between different tables of students. Teachers and administrators make sure students put on masks before getting up to throw away trash or leave. 

While the current measures are perhaps all that can be conceivably enforced without more teachers and further reducing lunch group sizes, the switch to a 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. schedule would eliminate the most difficult logistical problem for the school. 

While some may argue that a shortened school day would limit what students learn, last year’s schedule worked fine. Now that the vast majority of students are in-person, teachers will better be able to focus on their classes. Students could even be assigned classwork to take home that would have normally been done during a longer day. 

The switch to a shortened schedule would help both ease the work for both students and administrators. Students would have shorter days, and administrators would better be able to deal with COVID.