Schreiber should invest in outdoor dining space for students


Parikshith Hebbar, Staff Writer

During the early months of the school year, many students opted to sit outside at the bleachers, the circle, or on benches for lunch.  Now that winter is here, it is getting colder outside and students have retreated to eating indoors.  However, as school has become more and more crowded, COVID-19 cases have increased.  Public health experts have repeatedly shown that crowded, indoor dining is among the top spreaders of COVID-19.  

In order to solve this problem, we can look at what commercial enterprise has done.  Overall, there are many ways to eat lunch outside and still be warm.  In addition, Schreiber can take precautions to make indoor eating safer.  As many restaurants have done, using outdoor heaters and using tents when it snows and rains are good ideas.  We can also turn to other solutions to ease overcrowded cafeteria spaces within Schreiber.  

“I think the heaters and the tents are a good idea.  We could also pitch in to help set up the tents and heaters,” said freshman Ragib Haque.   

Using outdoor heaters is definitely a good idea to keep warm outside during these cold winter months.  Tents can help us by providing protection from rainy or snowy weather.  State and local governments have endorsed outdoor dining. Heaters can be set up near benches or around the circle, and tents can be set up in open areas adjacent to the school, including smaller or unused fields.   By simply giving kids more outdoor space we can improve social distancing and safety during off periods.  

“We can use the high school turf for more space for students to eat lunch if possible,” said freshman Jai Dhillon.  

Using the high school turf and other additional spaces could promote social distancing.  One of the first hurdles to such an improvement would be cost.  But, can we really put a price tag on the safety of students and the community at large?  Additionally, this infrastructure could be used even when the pandemic is not a threat to facilitate outdoor physical education, teaching, and eating, for years to come.  

“I think having the heaters outside is a really good idea.  It might be a little bit expensive but I think it would definitely help decrease the numbers of COVID-19 cases in our school,” said freshman Nichole Granda.

Even without doing this, Schreiber should take steps to better allocate eating space.  One of the main places most students eat lunch is at the gym.  Students rarely sit at the desks in the middle of the gym and prefer to sit on the bleachers.  The desks are stationed 6 feet apart for social distancing and were meant for kids to sit and eat but that is not well advertised.  Unfortunately, the bleachers are not spaced out like the desks.

The cafeteria and gym become packed with students during lunch hours and can become hard to maintain social distancing.  To help continue this indoor dining, we can use other rooms or spaces inside the school to spread students out.  By using classrooms, windows can be opened for ventilation and allow for more airflow than the gym.

Overall, there are many ways Schreiber can allow students to eat lunch outside or inside, still be safe, and maintain social distancing.  These investments aren’t just for the health of our students, but for the health of our community.  Dealing with an ever-changing pandemic requires an open mind to new solutions as they arise.