CENTRAL SQUARE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — When Paul V. Moore High School reopened to students on Tuesday, it was the first time many classmates got to see each other since March of 2020.
Last year, only half of the student body was allowed into the building at a time, so that students had room to social distance.
This year, the New York State Department of Health is encouraging three feet of distance between students, but not if it eliminates the ability for all students to attend at once.
Paul V. Moore High School Assistant Principal Damon Villnave said, “It’s been very difficult because capacity issues. This (cafeteria) holds about 285 people. Our largest lunch is 250.”
Because of the number of students seated at once, cafeterias are among the hardest spaces to distance people, but also where students are least likely to wear masks most of the time.
In Central School, like most other districts, lunch periods last around 30 minutes. The virus can spread in less than 15 minutes, and the variants are getting more contagious.
In an effort to keep students safe, the district is using plexiglass barriers between each lunch space.
The dividers were bought for all of Central Square’s buildings last school and are being reused this year.
Students can take off their masks for eating, but are asked to put them back on when they’re done.
The assistant principal says cafeteria monitors and other school staff will offer friendly reminders.
Students are also asked to check-in their seat at every lunch period using a QR code at each spot. The code launches a form for the student’s name, table and seat number.
In the event of a contagious case in the room, the data will help the assistant principal determine who else needs to quarantine.
Villnave said, “We’re asking students just to comply with our rules. We talk to them. The Delta variant is here. We know it. We don’t want school to get shut down. We want you here. We love having you here.”