Parents concerned about overcrowding in Collier County school cafeterias


Parents are shocked by an image shared online that shows children crammed into a school cafeteria. It is not confirmed that it was taken in Southwest Florida, but it raises concerns for the health of children in schools.

We learned on Wednesday that dozens of students tested positive for COVID-19 in Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties during the first week of school.

Collier County Public Schools recognize a problem with lack of social distancing. They said they had done everything possible to allow distancing during the lunch hour. For example, some middle and high schools have added more tables and outdoor food courts.

But some parents fear that this is not enough. There was a lot of interaction in a group of moms on social media after an image was posted with a caption claiming to show a crowded scene in the Barron Collier High School cafeteria on Tuesday.

WINK News did not independently verify the photo, but it still worried the parents.

“Well, now it’s kind of all the bets are off, and there’s no social distancing because at school classes are at full capacity from what I understand.” , said Elizabeth Radi.

She said her son experienced a similar scene during his lunch break at Lely High School.

“And they’re right shoulder to shoulder,” Radi said. “They are piled up there like sardines. It’s like a delta variant petri dish for lunch.

In the social media comments, parents described a similar scene at schools including Naples High, Gulf Coast High, Barron Collier High and Pine Ridge Middle School.

CCPS said elementary students are away for lunch, but middle school and high school students can choose where they eat.

CCPS encourages distancing and sent us photos of the lunch at Barron Collier on Wednesday that showed additional seating to allow for it.

“It’s the first week of school,” CCPS said in a statement. “Principals monitor and make the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.”

Victoria Walton has a senior at Lely High. She said parents should have patience.

“I really think we’ve all been through enough in the last year and a half and we need to give ourselves a little bit of grace,” Walton said. “Whether it’s principals or teachers who are obviously in their careers because they want to help their children. They want to help our children.

CCPS said it reverted to a single high school meal period for the 2021-22 school year.

Some parents say this is part of the problem, but CCPS said it allows students to go to club meetings over lunch, leaving more room in traditional lunch areas.

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