16-minute lunch: Elmira City School District updates parents on new lunch plan

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The Elmira City School District has updated its student lunch schedule after students and parents complained of only getting only 16 minutes to eat lunch.

According to a letter sent by Ernie Davis Academy Principal Theresa Usack, “student schedules now reflect a 20-minute lunch period combined with Student Advisory period,” which allows for a “40-minute total downtime for middle school students.”

Usack’s full letter can be read below:

Dear Ernie Davis Academy Families,

As we near our second month of school, I am writing to you with a few updates. It has been wonderful to see our students back in school and to connect with them in-person every day. Our students are learning and growing, becoming masterful readers, writers, problem-solvers, and critical thinkers. Our goal is to continue building relationships and connection among our Champions of Ernie Davis Academy.

Updates in the Cafeteria | Student Schedules and Positive Feedback

Student and parent feedback creates an opportunity to learn and improve our school systems and procedures. We value this feedback as part of our ever-evolving school culture. Critical listening transitions our strategic discussions into action. Please see below a few updates we’ve successfully rolled-out to our meal-time routines in the two days. As we continue to keep our students’ voices at the center of our work, the improvements listed have been well-received by our EDA Champions:

· A new line formation has been defined by a boarder so that students who bring their lunch and students who are accessing school lunch have clear and defined paths for transition into the cafeteria. As our new students become comfortable with our self-serve cafeteria process, this new formation helps visually guide our students through the cafeteria entrance.

· We evaluated the time for lunch including the time it takes for students to be served through the line. We’ve expanded lunch periods from four to eight periods in order to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time (moving from 200 students per period to 100 students per period). In a cafeteria that holds 1440 maximum capacity, 100 students can safely distance and move more quickly through the lunch line. Our cafeteria staff is able to optimize their serving capacity in this new configuration.

· Student schedules now reflect a 20-minute lunch period combined with Student Advisory period. Student Advisory is designed to create a strong support system for students to develop academically, socially, and emotionally. This 40-minute total downtime for middle school students is in alignment with national trends and benchmarks. Additional passing times are scheduled for students as they navigate from one period to the next.

· Our custodial staff has worked hard to replace our cafeteria tables with desks. Desks provide a visual representation of social distancing for students. We are finding that desks also encourage our students to remain seated throughout the lunch period so that they can finish their meal without disruption.

The EDA Building Administration team is continuing to review lunch period schedules and observe cafeteria trends in order to optimize our student’s experiences. The improvements listed above have been well-received by our students and we are eager to continue watching our students learn and grow.

As always if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call the school so that we can work directly with you and your family. Family, School, Community: Together We Succeed!

Thank you,

Theresa Usack Principal Ernie Davis Academy Elmira City School District

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