From the Principal's Desk
We all look forward to lunch to nourish our bodies and connect with friends. I want to clarify some questions concerning school lunch periods that have been raised by parents, and explain why we follow the procedures that are in place.
The time allotted for lunch/recess in grades 1-5 is 35 minutes. This is in accordance with the Time and Learning regulations set by the state which require 990 hours of instructional time each year. Lunch and recess do not count as instruction nor do transitions between classes such as Art and Music. This translates to 20 minutes per day for snack/recess and 35 for lunch/recess. If students have a "working snack" in the morning, it allows them to use their 20 minutes for recess.
We have three lunch periods beginning at 11:45. Two grades eat at each lunch. One grade goes out for about 15 minutes, lines up and goes to the cafe to eat. The other grade eats first and then goes outside. If students do not finish their food, many teachers allow students to finish their lunch during quiet time in the classroom which usually follows lunch. Students who eat first can finish their lunch on the bench or picnic table outside. In grade five, the policy is "eat when you are hungry" as long as you do it in an appropriate manner.
Students readily admit that they do not show the lunch staff the same level of respect as their teachers. This is sometimes true for substitutes as well. We want to be sure lunch is a safe experience and that our core value of respect is upheld. Eric and Connie supervise lunch and recess along with support from aides in our building. We are in the process of incorporating Responsive Classroom language and practices during lunch and training our lunch staff to be consistent with classroom practices. Eric and Connie are following the same rules as our teachers; students must use respectful language and must be silent to enter the building and walk through the halls.
We realize that lunch is an important social time for students. At times students are more interested in talking with friends than eating. Adults do walk around the cafe reminding students to eat, and give a 5 minute warning prior to the transition back to class/to recess.
I have talked with our School Council and met with each of the fifth grade classrooms to allow students to voice their concerns and be part of the solution. As a result, Mr. Eric will be allowing the students who are lining up appropriately to go inside and start lunch. Students agreed that they don't always follow the rules and that by lining up quickly and quietly we could avoid unnecessary delays. They agreed that they need to follow the rules on a consistent basis.
We continue to look for ways to make lunch both enjoyable and safe given the restraints of time. Both eating and recess are important parts of our students' day, and we want them to be relaxing and safe.
Audrey Parad Peller