A California school district recently emailed parents advising them that, due to coronavirus restrictions, their children would be forced to eat lunch outside in the rain.
“Rain is forecasted this week which will present an added challenge to our lunch routines,” Patwin Elementary School Principal Gay Bourguignon emailed to parents this week. “DJUSD [Davis Joint Unified School District] students are required to eat outside at this time due to COVID restrictions. I am asking you to send your children to school with rain gear and warm jackets.”
The email angered parents who in turn posted to social media.
“This exemplifies California’s response with kids during the pandemic,” Reopen California Schools founder Jonathan Zachreson said. “The inhumane treatment of children continues from masking all day, even outdoors, to having to sit on hot cement and now eating lunch in the rain.”
Republican California state legislator Kevin Kiley reacted with disgust by tweeting, “Cruelty to children has been normalized in California.”
Reactions from the letter prompted the Davis Joint Unified School district to release a second email stating that children would be allowed to eat inside “whenever possible” adding that the district is facing “unique challenges as we seek to maintain our students’ health and safety and minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection.”
Principal Bourguignon then sent parents a third email acknowledging that some people were unhappy with the decision to force kids to eat in the rain.
“Some parents are very happy with our decision to have students eat outside and others are concerned,” Bourguignon wrote. “Our campus is not ideal for eating outside due to the lack of a solid walkway cover. In collaboration with our District staff, we looked at all of the alternatives. If during lunchtime, we have a heavy downpour of rain it will be challenging to eat under the covered walkways. ”
“During a heavy downpour, we will have a staggered lunch with one grade level at a time in our MPR for 15 minutes with all 10 doors open and 2 air purifiers running. After 15 minutes, students will be dismissed to their classrooms for inside recess. If you prefer that your child remains outside to eat please inform your teacher and we will make accommodations to support your request.”
A parent of two children in the Davis Joint Unified School District said that the first email was “surprising but not shocking given the state of COVID fear in Davis itself.”
The father of two added that his children are forced to wear masks outside during recess even though data showing outdoor transmission of the virus is less than 1% and the CDC’s claim that schools are not a major coronavirus transmission source.
He says, “The other parents I’ve spoken to thought it was ridiculous and overkill,” that students would be forced to eat lunch in the rain.