New cafeteria guidelines implemented during pandemic

Freshmen students Christian Peters (left), Lorenzo Price (center), and Darrel Milton Jr. (right), eat lunch in the cafeteria following the implementation of the new Covid guidelines. (Photo by Theo Weinstock)

New cafeteria guidelines and procedures have been implemented by cafeteria staff and high school administration since hybrid learning began in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students.

Food Services Director Julianna Carvi said that cafeteria staff wear masks at all times and use shields as barriers when handing out food. A new free lunch rule has also been introduced, which provides a free meal to any students who choose a fruit or a vegetable and milk with their entree, Carvi said. She also explained students will get handed trays of food this year. 

“There is no longer a quick pick-up of a slice of pizza or tenders, then out to the register,” Carvi said. 

The StarBEX Cafe is now closed because students tend to gather and hang out there, she said. She added that popular items such as paninis, bagels and small snacks from the Cafe are still being sold, with the exception of the salad bar, which was removed. 

Carvi said that she followed orders from the Franklin County Public Health Department and the Bexley City Schools Task Force when making decisions on how to prevent the spread of the virus. She added that the food staff also meets regularly with other food service directors to share ideas and to see if the high school should apply those practices to their work.

However, she said a challenge for the staff is getting students through the line in a timely manner without coming into close contact with other students.

“We are keeping students six feet apart from the beginning of the line through the service area and out to the registers,” Carvi said. “At the register, students have to say their numbers, not use the pin pad.” 

When serving food, communication can also be an issue between the staff and students because of the barriers, Carvi explained. 

“We are talking more, asking more questions, and we are all masked,” Carvi said. “That’s the roughest part.” 

Junior Lexi Yaffe said that the same dividers on classroom desks are now placed at all cafeteria tables as well. She explained that these make it difficult for her to have conversations, but they help prevent the spread of the virus.

Sophomore Ellie Cohen also had issues with the school’s protocol about trays of food because she does not want to waste a whole tray of food when she only wants one item. However, the new policy is good for encouraging students to eat healthier at lunchtime, she said.

Despite the challenges with the new guidelines, Carvi said that she is enjoying being back in the building.

“Students have adjusted nicely,” Carvi said. “What has been good has been seeing the students.”