▶️ BLS elementary students to eat lunch outside ‘as weather permits’


Something as simple as school lunch has been made difficult by a global pandemic.

Bend-La Pine Schools elementary students will be required to eat lunch outside in socially distanced groups, weather permitting, this upcoming school year.

It is recommended, but not required, middle and high school students do the same.

The protocol was approved Tuesday during a school board work session, but a close four to three vote came with some hesitation.

“I can’t approve a plan that does not have very specific parameters,” Amy Tatom, school board member said. “So there is not any sort of open to interpretation based on how seriously someone takes COVID.”

The lunch plan does not specify sizes of socially distanced groups or outdoor temperature.

20 degrees is the cutoff for outdoor recess, but that is likely too cold for students to sit outside and eat.

Board chair Melissa Barnes Dholakia believes this gives different schools with varying set-ups flexibility.

“You’re going to have to allow individual site leaders to develop protocols,” Barnes Dholakia said. “Develop seating arrangements that are going to support their staff, and using the space that they have.”

If students end up eating inside, they will be six feet apart.

Barnes Dholakia says there is no room for personal opinion from those enforcing the protocol.

“There are mandates, there are expectations, and we have said students will be six feet apart when they are eating,” Barnes Dholakia said. “That is the requirement.”

The school district plans to put together a medical advisory committee to assess the lunch plans of each school this fall.


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