Why One School District Cut Lunch Time Down to 14 Minutes Flat

COVID-19 guidelines in Ventura County require unmasked, unvaccinated students to quarantine whenever they come within 6 feet of an infected individual for 15 minutes or longer. To cut down on the risk of infection – and mass quarantines in particular – the Windsor School District has come up with an idea: cut lunch time down to 14 minutes exactly.

Superintendent Jeremy Decker was candid about the strategy. 

"By doing this for 14 minutes, we can accurately say to the Department of Public Health that we know our students have not been unmasked and in close contact for fifteen minutes," he told KGO.

The idea came to mind after two coronavirus exposures forced the district to close down an entire grade last month. It’s almost certain to bring quarantine rates down, but at what cost to students? Even before the pandemic, there were concerns that most students were not getting adequate time for meals at school. In 2013, then Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent a letter to school leaders recommending a bare minimum of 20 minutes for lunch time to ensure optimal nutrition. 

Shortened lunch periods aren't the only tools Windsor is using to combat COVID-19 exposure. Each child also has a labeled assigned seat so that they know exactly who sat next to who in the event of a positive case. The district says that has already cut down on quarantine rates considerably.


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