School implements new lunchroom seating options in anticipation of all in-person school

New seating modifications in cafeteria, the main hallway and auxiliary gym allow for more seating during lunch for when students return to full in-person classes on Monday, Feb. 1

Madison Burrow, JAG reporter/photographer

The transition from hybrid to all in-person schooling comes with many changes and modifications, the main one being the new lunchroom adjustments. Students will be more widely spread apart, with a choice of sitting either in the cafeteria, gym, or in the select seats stationed throughout the main hallway. 

With many members of the community and students voicing their opposition to the change from the hybrid learning model to the full in-person learning model, to ensure that covid rates at Mill Valley do not increase with the influx of students in the building, the administration has implemented new safety protocols to promote social distancing and keep students safe and healthy.

With increased seating to promote social distancing, Principal Gail Holder believes that as long as everybody follows COVID protocols, we will be able to stick with the all in-person form of schooling for the remainder of the semester.

“It will really depend on how our covid numbers are in the building, with our staffing, and whether people are getting sick,” Holder said. “If we can keep everybody healthy, following the covid protocols, and wearing masks, we will be in school as long as we can do that.”

With the new seating arrangement, more staff will be supervising both designated eating areas to help monitor and keep everything sanitized. 

“We are going to have all four admin on lunch duty every single day. Plus we have a staff member each lunch period and two custodians, as well as our lunch ladies to help us with cleaning and sanitizing,” Holder said. 

So far students are allowed to choose where they want to eat, and with that freedom there are also new precautions taking place. 

“We have approximately 20-30 extra spots for students to sit, so there is opportunity for those students to spread out,” Holder said. “Hopefully when it gets a little warmer, we will be able to allow students to sit outside as well to also help with the spacing.”

Now that twice the amount of students in the building will be present, taking off a mask to eat could be a potential risk if students don’t stay distanced. 

Sophomore Amit Kaushal believes that it will be difficult to stay separated due to students wanting to talk to, and be around their friends during lunch. 

“I feel like it is very hard to keep a classroom of 20 and more students six feet apart, so it will be even harder during lunch,” Kaushal said.

Now that part of the main gym is being used as a cafeteria, available space for gym classes has been cut in half. The new seating may limit certain activities in the classes, causing P.E. teacher Debbie Fay to alter a few main aspects so students can stay as distanced as possible with the lack of available space. 

“We are teaming up with Lifetime sports and sharing space. In gym class we have to remember like all classes to follow our guidelines that Mill Valley has for us to be safe,” Fay said. “We also have a lot of students so we just have to organize and take turns with game participation time, locker room space, and distancing as much as possible.”

Although this year has not been ideal, many teachers are willing to do whatever is necessary to allow students to return to full in-person school safely, even if it includes altering class.

“The lunch extension into the aux gym is necessary for us to return to school, therefore I am willing to do whatever we need to do in my classes to have students back,” Fay said. “I miss all my students.”

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