School lunch: super safe or super spreader?

JHOP does lunch differently in the time of corona.


Gloria Privis | JHT

Alex Mcduffie talks to a friend across plexigass in the new cafeteria setup.

Gloria Privis, JHT Staff Writer

This year at John Hopkins Middle School, lunches have changed completely due to COVID-19. When you walk in the cafeteria you have to wear a mask, sanitize your hands, go to your assigned seat and stay six feet apart. 

School officials say they cannot allow school lunch periods to be “super-spreader” events. 

“It’s a big challenge,” says Ms. McIntosh, eighth grade vice principal. “We allow students to sit with their friends, however it’s only groups of four.”

According to Pinellas County Schools, lunch schedules are altered to allow for increased room for students in the lunchroom cafeteria areas. Instead of A and B lunch, there are now three lunches: A, B and C lunch. This means A lunch student eat lunch right after 1st period, and C lunch students do not eat lunch until after 3rd period. 

According to the CDC schools should be:

  1. Promoting behaviors that reduce COVID-19’s spread
  2. Maintaining healthy environments
  3. Maintaining healthy operations

The school says masks or face coverings must be worn when not eating. Some students don’t like the new system, because they don’t want to wear masks and they can’t sit with their friends. 

Also, when you check out with your lunch, you don’t touch the keypad. Instead, you spell your last name and then you can go. After every lunch your table is sanitized and prepared for a next lunch. 

“We know it’s not the most convenient setup,” Ms. McIntosh says. “But we’re just trying to protect the kids.’’