Students allowed to eat lunch indoors

District backtracks on indoor mask mandate for rainy days


Ylin Zhu

Cal High students enjoy eating lunch outside in the quad during nice weather. When it gets too cold and starts raining, administrators told students they would be allowed to eat inside the main building despite the mask mandate indoors.

‘Masks indoors!’ is a rule students have had to follow since the beginning of the school year,

But with the return of rainy weather, students can now eat inside on days with rain or poor air quality.

Students will be allowed to eat inside the main and fine arts buildings on those days because the two locations are larger and have open hallways, assistant principal Jeffrey Osborn said. 

“We want to provide an opportunity for students to choose to eat inside or out on rainy and poor air quality days,” Osborn said. “Students who wish to sit outside can continue to do so, those who wish to stay dry or breathe healthy air can come inside.” 

The decision started with the California Board of Education at the beginning of the school year, assistant principal Tucker Farrar said.

“[The decision] was then passed to Contra Costa County before they imitated the idea then sent it to the [San Ramon Valley Unified School District] and finally, Cal High was informed of this plan,” Farrar said.

While Farrar acknowledges that the exception is contradictory to what students have been practicing since school resumed on campus in August, administrators don’t have a choice in the matter. Farrar said it is up to students to do their best to stay safe while eating indoors.

“It’s based on students’ responsibility,” Farrar said. “They should take a bite [of their food], then put their masks [back] on right away.” 

Even though eating indoors is an option during bad weather days, many students, such as freshmen Suhas Balla and Benjamin Seo, would rather eat outdoors.

“[I prefer eating] outside because you actually get to move around more and there is more space,” Balla said.

There are options to avoid getting wet outdoors, such as shade structures and eaves. Several students said they also enjoy the seating choices and environment outdoors.

“[The] environment is good outside,” Seo said. “It’s less packed.”

After the first announcements in October that students would be allowed to eat in the main building and fine arts buildings, students have begun to question this logic.

“It’s ironic because they’re telling you to mask indoors but then telling you to take off your mask,” sophomore Daniel Jung said.

Others agree that the policy of telling students to wear masks indoors while allowing them to eat indoors the moment the mandate becomes inconvenient is questionable.

“The concept of it is kind of dumb in a way,” sophomore Rookia Alam said. “[It] defeats the purpose of having a mandatory mask mandate at all.”

Administrators want to assure everyone that eating indoors during this time will be as safe as possible.

“The ventilation systems in our school are very efficient and effectively filter out COVID and air particles due to smoke,” Farrar said.

Another problem that has arisen are club meetings during lunch. Many students will spend most of their lunch in their club meetings, but they can’t eat during them because they are told to wear their masks indoors.

Still, students such as Interact president senior Cindy Zhu agree that wearing masks indoors is important during club meetings.

“I don’t think students should be allowed to eat indoors [during club meetings] because there are a lot of people indoors, and there is still the COVID issue so everyone should keep their masks on until after the meeting,” Zhu said. 

The choice is up to students.

“I feel like you have the choice to eat before or after the meeting,” junior Tyler Duong said. “But during the meeting, you should focus on the club.”