Anger over kids dining areas

Parents of children at Lasswade High are up in arms over what they’re saying is totally unsuitable dining arrangements.

Lasswade High has insufficient space for children to eat at tables, complained parents.
Lasswade High has insufficient space for children to eat at tables, complained parents.

One reader, whom we have agreed will remain anonymous to protect her children wrote saying: “My child is an S1 pupil and was forced to sit on the playground floor eating her lunch on Wednesday and Thursday as the few benches in the playground were taken.

“On Thursday the floor was wet but the pupils were told unless it is extreme weather they will not be providing another option and so they crouched to eat whilst laying their bags on the ground to help protect their clothes.

“The school website has been updated with a statement that pupils will be outside for break and lunch and should dress appropriately.

What that statement very obviously does not recognise, is the fact that there is no provision for pupils to sit at a table and eat their lunch properly, never mind shelter to eat if it is raining!

“A 50 minute break in a small playground with nowhere to sit is ridiculous, not to mention the health concerns it raises if children are eating in this manner.

“S1 pupils have no option to leave the school grounds so are stuck with no other choice than the discomfort of eating from the floor, which may or may not be wet depending on Mother nature!

I know that Beeslack High School are allowing pupils to eat in classrooms as are all primary schools. However Lasswade High simply refuses to countenance the possibility or even look at this option.

Head Teacher Campbell Hornell thanks students, parents and carers for their patience as the school continues to review lunch arrangements while complying with national guidance for a safe return to school.

Mr Hornell said: “Finding space for 1600 students to have lunch safely when our dining area in the atrium is out of bounds is a challenge. We’ve put an extra 22 picnic benches outside and asked students to dress appropriately for the weather. In addition, we have on order another 26 indoor and outdoor tables to increase capacity.

“Supply issues, with many schools ordering additional seating, is affecting delivery times. On days when it is very wet and we have inclement weather, we’ve taken all the atrium seating and tables and put them in the sport and leisure side of the building for pupils to use at break and lunchtimes.

“With our lunchtimes split across a two-hour window and national guidance stipulating classroom doors should be open to enhance ventilation, we feel it is not feasible for students to eat, while encouraging physical distancing, in the atrium as it would be far too noisy for those still in classes to work productively.

“Currently, we’ve also ruled out the idea of students eating in classrooms as we have moved to a two-week timetable model and this, along with split lunches, would mean students would need to go to a different room each day for lunch. This would be confusing and again, noisy, with adjacent classrooms being used for both study and lunch.

“As for our water provision, where a water fountain is by mouth only, these are cordoned off and must not be used. Parents have been asked to send students to school with water and we have free bottled water if pupils need more.

“During the first few weeks as we return to school we know we will not get everything right first time. As a result we are reviewing all our arrangements on a regular basis as we work to resolve issues while keeping everyone safe and ensuring meaningful learning takes place. We thank everyone again for their patience.”