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Seattle elementary school students forced to eat outdoors during COVID-19 — and some say it's child abuse
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Seattle elementary school students forced to eat outdoors during COVID-19 — and some say it's child abuse

A Seattle-area elementary school is making headlines after a policy regarding outdoor lunch periods due to the COVID-19 pandemic circulated on the internet.

What are the details?

According to a Tuesday report from PJ Media, administrators at Queen Anne Elementary school have decided that their students will be eating outdoors during the winter months amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Seattle-area radio host Ari Hoffman tweeted the school's newest policy and captioned it, "Queen Anne Elementary in Seattle is forcing kids to eat lunch outside in freezing temperatures. Sadly, that's nothing new. What is new is when they go inside because it is too wet/cold they: have their own 'eating spots,' slide their mask on & off between bites, 'eat silently'[.]"

A majority of people commenting on Hoffman's tweet railed against the practice and said it was nothing short of child abuse.

What else?

A portion of the guidelines states that all students "will continue to eat outside whenever possible to ensure everyone's health and safety."

"We are continuously refining our processes in partnership with staff and families," the guidelines continue. "Thank you to parent volunteers who are helping with lunch, children are bringing yoga mats and towels to sit on, and staff and I have marked off 6 ft. distances so students know their 'spots.'"

During sunny days, students are permitted to eat on the school's basketball court, while during rainy days, students are allowed to sit under covered areas such as "outdoor alcoves" and the school's "covered gym entrance."

Students are ultimately allowed to eat inside — but only if rain is coming down "sideways" during a torrential downpour — and so long as their parents sign a virtual permission slip allowing their children to eat indoors.

The form states:

For health and safety reasons, SPS elementary schools are holding lunches outdoors in 2021-22 for the foreseeable future. We eat outdoors rain or shine, and we make the best of it as we practice our flexibility and resiliency. QAE is fortunate to have several covered outdoor eating areas which accommodate all students in each lunch cohort. (K-1, 2-3, and 4-5). All areas are supervised by adults. In the rare event that an extreme weather occurance (ex. torrential downpour), students whose parents have given permission to do so may be offered the option of eating inside the cafeteria if weather conditions are so severe that it prohibits them from eating their lunch. This determination is made by administration. Eating in the cafeteria would require students to sit separately, silently unmask as they take each bite and re-mask in between bites. Students would be expected to eat quickly and silently, remask and then go to a supervised location on site. Cafeteria would be supervised by administration. Even with parental permission, if a student chooses to wait a few minutes to eat their lunch until a covered area becomes available, their choice will be honored and supported.

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