The lunch bell will now ring at the end of the day for Catholic high school students in Simcoe Muskoka.
The latest change to the lunch protocol started Monday and comes less than a week after the board said students would have to remain in their classroom during lunch to keep students in their cohort for the entire day.
This followed concerns expressed in the community about large groups of high school students gathering on or off school property at lunch with few signs of physical distancing. Some students wore masks and others did not.
Pauline Stevenson, Communications Manager with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, said there will be two 15-minute nutrition breaks over the course of the school day for students and the school day will end an hour earlier.
“Students have the option to leave and go home and have their lunch, or they could go off on their own, or they can remain in the schools for that remaining hour in the classroom with supervision provided.”
Stevenson said they feel the plan is the best under a difficult situation.
“There are enough students that walk, drive or can get drivers, and another group of students that might just choose to have their lunch in the classroom and get some work done, or whatever. There is another group of students that may need to take the bus home, and they may leave the school property and then take the bus”
Dismissal times vary at each school. There is no change to the afternoon bus schedule.
Stevenson said it is an ongoing education process with students about COVID-19.
“The cases we are seeing now we know are a lower demographic than the first wave we had back in the spring. We know there is work to be done with this group. We are part of the process. School, parents and students need to take a role.”