OpEd: Creek’s Lunch Practices Are Creating An Unsafe Environment


The Commons at Silver Creek High School on a Tuesday Morning. Photo by Dillon Rankin. Despite the seating in the Commons as well as the extra tables added outside of the A wing, Silver Creek students have been faced with a shortage of space to eat lunch in. This has led to, among other things, less social distancing while eating, stress while trying to find a table, and an overall less enjoyable lunch experience.

Over the past few weeks, we here at Silver Creek have faced a period of cold and wet weather. Not only has this weather delayed the joys of spring, but it has also exposed a rather pressing issue: lunch seating.

Students usually are spread between outside and inside during lunches, allowing them to properly distance themselves and eat where they see fit. However, this hasn’t been possible recently, forcing all of the student body to cram into the building itself. This has caused several issues.

Kaitlin Ruth, a sophomore here at Silver Creek, explains that social distancing is next to impossible to achieve while sitting inside. Mary Aragon-Vigil, one of our security officers at Silver Creek High School also offered an assessment that agrees with this, saying that during periods of cold weather, it is often necessary for students to sit three or four to a table.

In addition to the impossibility of social distancing caused by this lack of seating, it has also led to shortened lunch periods for students during periods of cold weather, as they must first search for areas to sit. Ruth said she had, “definitely” experienced this issue on such days when attempting to sit with multiple friends during lunch periods.

This lack of seating, however, has a clear solution: at present, students are not allowed to eat outside of the commons and supplemental seating in the hallway outside of A wing if they are eating a school lunch. We must, on days of poor weather, do away with this rule altogether. This would not only allow students to enjoy a safer lunch, but a less stressful one as well, as less time would be used to find seating and maintain social distancing in an inadequate environment.

There would, of course, have to be regulations. We wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, allow students to sit anywhere they want throughout the school, but rather in a larger designated area, such as all along the Crescent. This could be enforced as it is now, simply by spreading our security staff throughout a larger area. In addition to solving a problem within our community, the idea is popular with the student body.

When asked about this whether this was a good idea, Colin Jones, a freshman student, said, “Yeah. You should be able to [eat lunch in] other places.” Ruth, when asked if she would use this expanded area of seating said that she “definitely would.”

This idea does face criticism from the administration. Ms. Vigil expressed that she felt it simply wasn’t necessary, even on days of cold weather, as it has historically been hard to get members of the student body to clean up after themselves during lunch. Additionally, with as few staff members available during lunch as there are, one could assume it would be harder for hall monitors to enforce social distancing if students were allowed to eat in a larger area.

There are, however, some problems with these counter arguments: first of all, the most recent CDC social distancing guidelines maintain that people should remain at least three feet apart with masks on during in-person interactions, if not six feet. Masks are not possible to have on throughout all of lunch, but with three people at one table, which is fairly commonplace during periods of bad weather, barely two feet to space is possible to achieve. If we were to increase the area in which students were allowed to eat, more tables would be available to the student body, giving people the much needed space they need to get us through this pandemic.

Second, the issue of sanitation. While it is certainly possible for this to become more of an issue if students were to spread out to undesignated areas, it is fairly unlikely considering the habit students appear to have developed when it comes to cleaning up after they’re finished eating, and when considering the fact that security staff would still be present in the expanded lunch area.

Third and finally, giving students this extra space would lessen the hassle of finding a space at which to eat at the beginning of lunch, giving students more time to actually eat and enjoy the time they have with their friends.

As the battle against COVID-19 continues, as a school, we must do everything we can to slow its spread. This goal of enforcing social distancing during lunch periods is written into the coronavirus protocols on the St. Vrain Valley School District website: “Social distancing will be maintained as much as possible, including one-directional hallways, staggered recess times, lunch time, and as our students move throughout the school.”

To meet this goal that our school district itself has set for us, we must make lunches safer by opening up extra seating to the student body on days that students can’t sit outdoors. This is a popular course of action with the student body, it would allow students to more effectively social distance, and it would make finding a place to eat easier. It is cost-effective and easy to enact solution to this problem. Let’s do our part in this fight.