BLUE RIDGE-OAKLAND: Extended lunch period at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary improves efficiency

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 | 7:39 p.m. CDT; updated 11:39 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 28, 2011

COLUMBIA — Students at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School will now have the chance to play a little longer.

The school implemented a restructured lunch and recess schedule this fall that adds a 10-minute break between each lunch shift. This allows for a smoother transition between each lunch group and gives students extra time to eat or play.

"Last year we had all six lunch shifts run consecutively, which meant there was always a group coming in with no time in between," Principal Dan Boatman said. 

This year, one group of students will eat lunch while another is at recess. The groups then switch. After both groups have had lunch and recess, there is a 10-minute break before the process repeats with a fresh group of students.

The 10-minute addition to the lunch schedule allows cafeteria workers to replenish food and trays, Boatman said. When a lunch shift falls behind schedule, the added time also makes getting back on track easier.

"Last year it was back to back to back, so if one shift was late, all shifts were pushed back," said Boatman. "We have 137 kindergarteners — it takes them awhile to get through the lunch line."

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