Safety or security: outdoor courtyard expansion

As social distancing issues have resurfaced, the amount of outdoor seating open during lunch has waned.

The rise in outdoor eating and frustration over underclassmen in the Senior Courtyard have raised questions of whether to open up other outdoor spaces.

“We want to give individuals enough space to properly distance but we can’t let students congregate without supervision,” Safety and Security Assistant Scott Devine said. 

Devine said only two of the school’s four courtyards are open to students during lunch because there are not enough security personnel to supervise additional spaces.

Sophomore Ivanna Stefanova said she sees the open courtyards as an escape for some students.

“On certain days it’s just good to take a break and chill outside,” Stefanova said. “It’s also way calmer and more relaxing.”

For sophomore Zoe Jones, eating outside is a matter of safety as well as comfort.

“I want to do as much as I can to protect myself and my family from COVID,” Jones said. “Eating outside at lunch is just another way of lowering my risk for getting myself and others sick.”

However, Jones said she recognizes the school’s security concerns.

“I think it’s unfortunate that we aren’t allowed to go to other courtyards to eat outside, where it’s safer, but I understand from an administrative perspective, since we are understaffed,” Jones said.

Safety and Security Specialist Steve Williams said these courtyards are also used by teachers during class, so they aren’t viable options for lunch. Additionally, students said the additional courtyards are inconveniently far from the cafeteria.

“If people were to eat out there, they’d have to bring their food that way, which could [make] a bigger mess,” junior Tia Aloizos said. “People [would] definitely go there, but it’s not going to be a lot of people.”

Standing at the crossroads of school security and student safety, Williams said his team is working on ways to open up more spaces for students during lunch.

“[You want to spread students] out as much as you can,” Williams said. “Any time you can put them outside, I think it’s a better situation.”

Williams said there is a new option for lunch in the works: the “Marshall Pit,” a shaded area beside the tennis courts. In the past, it has been used for gatherings during football and tennis games, but now, it may serve as a COVID-safe space for students to eat.

“We don’t really have anybody to [monitor the Pit], but we’re pushing that way,” Williams said. “It’s going to happen eventually.”

Aloizos said she would consider using the Pit for lunch if it becomes available, while Devine agreed new options are beneficial, as long as students remain safe.

“Security is number one,” Devine said. “At the end of the day, everybody has to be safe and everyone has to go home and come to school safe.”