Mount Vernon High School has applied many new guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. However, lunches are still packed, and difficult to spread out. To help reduce the spread, it would be beneficial for the school to become an open campus. With many students living in Mount Vernon, it could help with social distancing.
Using the new hybrid scheduling, 190 students attend school, acknowledging the risks of being around so many other people. With lunch in the cafeteria or outside, there’s only so much room for students to sit at tables socially distanced, so they are often forced closer than six feet without masks. Even with the staff trying their hardest to keep everyone safe by having two different lunches and also limiting four people per table, students should be allowed to go home and eat. This calls for the school to allow an open campus, ensuring the space needed for more people to social distance while eating, keeping students and staff safe.
Hesitance from the school board stems from a place of total distrust in their high school students. If an open campus was granted, school’s staff would need faith in students to be on a timely schedule. With lunches only being 28 minutes long, students who live out of town would not have enough time to go home, eat, and come back, but for those able to make it back should be allowed to do so. With only limited time at lunch, an open campus can help decrease the number of students during lunch, making it safer to combine the two lunches to become double the time: 56 minutes. This would help students who live further away go home as well. During this time, students can destress and prepare for the rest of the school day. Also, they don’t need to be put in a stressful situation where they feel uncomfortable taking their masks off to eat. With an open campus, students can freely take off their masks when social distancing away from peers and teachers. Furthermore, people who have health concerns would be able to get what they need without having to worry.
Some may be concerned that it may increase the number of students arriving late or skipping classes. However, student expectations could remain the same: to attend classes on time. The same expectations are put into place for attending the first hour, but just at a different time.
Even though some might not be able to take advantage of the opportunity, others can feel safe when allowed to go home during lunch period, making the lunchroom less-crowded and safer for all. An open campus will keep the number of students in the cafeteria during lunch down while allowing the students that stay to have more than a six foot social distancing gap.