How BHS students feel about new lunch procedures

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With the option for virtual school eliminated, Bernards is back to having every student in-person for the first time since the 2019-2020 school year.
This results in certain procedures, such as lunch, needing to be adapted to be as safe as possible. In effort to maintain social distancing, students are allotted half a period to eat. Freshman and Juniors eat first, then Sophomores and Seniors eat the second half of the block.
Students have the option of eating in the cafeteria, outside, or in the upper gym. When polled, about 35% of students responded saying that they typically eat in the cafeteria, 40% in the upper gym, and the remaining 25% chose to sit outside.
Lunch is one of the few times a day students are not required to wear masks, and 93% of students stated that they feel comfortable and safe removing their mask during this period, since 90% of students believe that there are adequate social distancing measures in place.
While 40% of students reported that they believe they are not given enough time to eat, Dr. Neigel has suggested that “students who feel that they do not have enough time to eat should reach out to an administrator to discuss.”
However, 60% of students stated that they actually prefer the current system of having half the block to eat, and half as a study hall. When asked if students can expect this system to remain in place, Dr. Neigel said “The lunch schedule will very likely remain in place for this school year. Post-pandemic, I am not sure. It is not what we had planned to do, but I will have to get some feedback from students and staff before we make a determination moving forward.”
However, not all students are pleased with certain lunch procedures. Multiple seniors expressed frustration with the route they must take to get to the shopping center in town.
Senior Matthew D’auria noted, “Walking down the hill behind the TD bank for lunch isn’t safe. Someone is eventually going to get hurt. What if a kid has a disability and isn’t capable of relying on himself to get down the incline? The bank should really open the gate up…” (Editor note: Students are advised to use the sidewalks and not the TD Bank hill for legal reasons)
Dr. Neigel is aware of student’s concerns, “I share the seniors’ frustration about access to the Bernardsville Centre. BHS administration, district administration, and the Board of Education have all made substantial efforts to provide easier and safer access to the shopping center, but have not had any success. All alternative routes have been rejected by the Bernardsville Centre thus far. We will continue to advocate for a better option, but for now students must walk down church street to access the shopping center.”
So despite the school’s best efforts, it appears that as of now, this is one problem that does have an immediate solution.
The last year and a half have been full of changes to the BHS schedule as administrators were faced with different challenges brought about by the pandemic. While this year certainly reflects a schedule of more normalcy, it is not without adaptations that need to be made.
Lunch procedures may look different from previous years, but it is apparent that students overwhelmingly feel safe and content with these new procedures.