Keeping it Safe in the Cafeteria

School Nurse Addresses Safety Concerns During Lunchtime


Illustration by Lydia Ryu.

Lydia Ryu and Justin

The faculty is hard at work to find social distancing solutions that are just right for the school. Since 2020, Nurse Becky has been making plans with the head of school and office managers on how to make the campus a safer environment. Working alongside the administrators, she has been consulting with various experts in the health field. In accordance with the new rules mandated by the Korean Office of Education, discussions were had and decisions were made by faculty, resulting in the finalization of regulations that fulfill the new national regulations, as well as DIS’s own health standards.

Nurse Becky–who plays a key role in keeping DIS a safe environment amidst the pandemic–underlined the three big changes that were made to our lunchtime: seating arrangements, eating rules, and staggering schedules. She noted that “since the cafeteria [is] the most crucial place where students are allowed to take off their masks,” it was necessary for the school to make changes to the cafeteria itself, considering that removing lunch as a period was impossible. As an accommodation, seats were moved at least 1.5m away from one other. 

By placing transparent plastic partitions next to each seat, the school aimed to prevent infection by saliva transmission while eating. She added that the new eating rules were similarly focused on “discourag[ing] the students or the teachers from talking when they are eating.” All students and staff must be united in staying muted when unmasked at lunch. That step is of utmost importance to protecting public health within the school community.

Finally, the school implemented a “staggering schedule”, where all the grade levels are separated in their entrance times to avoid crowdedness. This way, inter-grade level interaction was minimized, reducing the risk of mass infection spreading throughout the school.

Many students have noticed these changes, and opinions were mixed. June from 5th grade commented, “We can’t be with our friends, and we can’t move out of our seats,” and understandably so. But while many find the regulations unsatisfying, students still acknowledge that such measures are necessary in the current situation. Philip from 5th grade mentioned, “I think we should prevent talking to each other [as much as possible]. I wish the COVID-19 cases would get lower, so we could go back to our normal school days.”

“It is important for all of us to pursue the same rules. So far, I think we are doing well with the no-mask [and] no-talk[ing] rules, but I am not sure how many students are washing their hands before they go to lunch. We should all be careful. We need to wear [masks] properly, avoid talking when we have no mask on, and wash our hands before we head off to the cafeteria,” Nurse Becky advised.

It’d be wise to follow Nurse Becky’s advice, and the advice of other health officials as well. As students at DIS, we are responsible for following these rules and advice to protect the community. She assures us that “even if COVID-19 goes [on for] longer, we should still be aware that this is what we need to do, and needs to be [followed].” The students, faculty members, and the teachers are all coming together to make DIS a safer place for everybody.