Students Had to Eat Lunch at Their Desks

School aged boy sitting at his desk along eating lunch looking sad
Artwork by Anthony Faust
School aged boy sitting at his desk along eating lunch looking sad

One of the biggest changes for students when they returned to school after the pandemic were the protocols put in place to help maintain social distancing. The biggest disruptor was skipping the lunchroom and instead grabbing school lunch and eating it alone at their own desk. Gone were the days of crowded cafeteria tables and socializing over lunch, replaced instead with a new and unfamiliar routine known as "desk dining."

For many students, the idea of eating at their desks was a ridiculous and unnecessary change. After all, the cafeteria was a beloved part of the school experience, a place to socialize and relax with friends over a shared meal. And with so many other measures in place to keep students safe, such as masks and social distancing, it seemed unnecessary and even a bit foolish to eliminate this beloved part of the school day.

Kids are in school to learn and be educated, no doubt. But one of the most important things kids learn in school is how to be social human beings. The lunch table can be the wild west, but it’s where kids learn how to be good people.

Restaurants had effectively removed the mask protocol for indoor dining. Patrons had to wear their masks to their seats, but once there, they could take the mask off for the entirety of the meal. It seemed like kids could handle this same type of rule in the lunchroom.

While the switch to desk dining may have been well-intentioned, it was not without its challenges. For many students, the loss of the social aspect of the cafeteria was taking away one of their favorite parts of the day. The chance to socialize and talk about anything but class. Some students reported feeling isolated and lonely while eating at their desks, with no one to talk to or share their meals with.

But despite the protests and complaints of students, schools across the country made the decision to switch to desk dining to keep their students and staff safe during the pandemic. The reasoning behind the change was that it would reduce the risk of transmission by eliminating crowded cafeteria spaces and shared surfaces.

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Picture of author Anthony Faust

About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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