Lunch options change with full-day instruction


Jake Short

The cafeteria is open for eating for the first time in over a year, but with many restrictions. Students must sit at separate tables six feet apart and wear masks for the duration of their lunch period unless eating.

Since the beginning of the school year — in the midst of a global pandemic — the cafeteria has primarily been used as a multipurpose room for students to attend class instructed by remote teachers or to do homework.

But with the start of a full-day, in-person option on April 5, a new plan for how lunch will work was developed.

All full-time in-person students are eligible to go off campus for the daily office hours and lunch period from 11:15 a.m.-12:35 p.m. But many underclassmen students are not able to drive or do not have a family member or friend who would be able to pick them up from the school to leave campus.

“I wish I could leave campus, but I don’t have my license or anyone to drive me,” freshman Sydney Poell explained.

“But in a way, I am excited to get [some] normalcy back,” she remarked. “I’ve never had lunch at LHS before, so that will be exciting.”

Those staying at school for the lunch period have been assigned a lunch group, and in this group, they alternate between three different stations.

When it’s students’ designated lunch time, they have 25 minutes to eat lunch in the cafeteria. Students can either bring their own lunch or they have the choice of a hot or cold boxed lunch option each day, with vegetarian options available. Each student sits at their own individual table, and they are required to wipe in and out during their allotted eating time.

Ole Stevens, director of student services, explained that throughout the process of planning lunch for all-day students, the safety of the students was the school’s “top priority.”

“A big factor in [planning] was the current ruling from the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, and Lake County Health Department on what proper health guidelines for eating were,” Mr. Stevens remarked. “For a classroom, the social distancing requirement was changed to three feet. [But] since students need to take their mask off while eating, [we] had to keep the distance [for the lunch room] at six feet.”

For students who choose to purchase their lunch at school, “buying a lunch will be different this year,” Mr. Stevens explained. “Students now need to go to My School Bucks (a website and app where parents can set up an account) and purchase their meals online. We will not be accepting cash.”

At another station during the extended midday period, students are directed to the stadium for 25 minutes of free time. Weather permitting, students walk with a group of staff supervisors to the stadium to complete homework, interact with friends, read or simply enjoy the outdoors.

They will enter and exit through the main entrance, but if weather does not allow for this, the fieldhouse will be used as an alternative location.

The other location students visit during their lunch rotation will be either the library or auditorium. There, students have 25 minutes of study hall to complete homework, listen to music or read.

For students going off campus during lunch, they need to leave the campus by 11:15 a.m. to, for example, go home for lunch or out to a local restaurant. They should return back to campus no earlier than 12:25 p.m. Those who choose to come back before will report to the stadium with the other students staying on campus.

When re-entering the building, students will go through another temperature screening at the main entrance.

Junior Alex Recana explained that she was looking forward to taking advantage of the off-campus lunch option.

“Usually juniors have to stay at school during lunch [in a normal school year]. I thought it is cool that as a junior I can leave too,” she explained.

Recana also remarked that since she has her own car, she feels “it would be a lot easier for [her] to go home or to a restaurant with friends, instead of a parent picking [her] up.”

“If I stayed at school, I feel [like] I would have gotten bored, and I think having a break during the day would be good for me,” Recana explained.

Similarly, senior Rania Bahrani explained that she thinks it is important to “get fresh air during a long day of school.”

Bahrani leaves campus during lunch to get “the full senior lunch release experience [she] was supposed to have during a normal school year.”

Mr. Stevens concluded: “We are very excited for students to be on campus all day. I am [very] glad we were able to plan it safely, and we are looking forward to seeing our students all day again.”