The Cafeteria



Students at Holyoke High are officially back in school. It could not feel better after about a year and a half of participating in remote learning. Lunch block has become one of the best parts of the day for students at HHS. They get to sit and talk freely with each other, eat and get their minds off school. We wouldn’t normally think of it as one of the most dangerous periods. However, in March 2020, a deadly virus known as COVID-19 hit the US and started a pandemic that killed millions and still affects many. It has become a hot topic for debates and many people hold different opinions on the matter. However, one thing we can all agree on is that the lunch room at HHS is crowded. Whether you are vaccinated or not, the cafeteria is very dangerous. We cannot eat with masks on and the students are 2 to 3 feet away from each other. This puts us at high risk of contracting and spreading the virus within the school environment.

COVID can spread from one person to hundreds of people because of a single case. According to the CDC, the masks we should be wearing throughout the school day reduces the contraction risk by between 50 and 70%. I am a Holyoke High student. It is my last year of high school and this year has been the year that I have been most concerned for my safety in the cafeteria. I noticed how crowded the lines of people are as well as the tables. I also noticed papers at each table whose main purpose is to function as a scanning tool.

Administrators encourage students to scan the code so they know who is sitting at each lunch table. If a student that was sitting at that table contracts COVID, administrators have data to notify close contacts. Despite the potential benefits of this system, I do not think it is going to work out. I personally only have scanned the code once and have not seen anyone around me do it either. Students also get up to visit other tables, go to bathrooms and classrooms during lunch period. This is concerning because I do not know how it is going to keep students at HHS safe.

I love what the school has done with breakfast. We eat breakfast in our homeroom. It always goes well. The students clean up after themselves and are not exposed to so many people at once without masks. We should have lunch in our individual classrooms. Being around less people when we don’t have a mask on is the safest thing to do, especially since not everyone is vaccinated. We are in smaller groups when we eat in classrooms. The process could function the same way as breakfast. Food would be brought up to the students, floor by floor. The cleaning process would also function the same way. Students would also be able to clean their desk before and after eating. I honestly don’t see why so many students should be around each other for an extended period of time with no masks on.