Midtown should continue to adhere to its closed campus policy for lunch

Liam Geissler-Norseng

Open lunches, where students can leave campus during lunchtime, are a staple of many high schools across the nation. However, Midtown’s strict adherence to a closed campus policy is an important measure to protect the safety of students and ensure an organized and productive learning environment.

Improving attendance is an uphill battle for many schools across Atlanta Public Schools. Though Midtown has one of the highest attendance rates among APS high schools, an open lunch would change that. Instead of receiving students in the morning and retaining them until 3:45 p.m. with relative ease, administrators would be fighting a losing battle to get students to return halfway through the day. Not only would many students not come back, but a large portion of those who did would do it late. High schoolers are not known for being on time, and a 45-minute off-campus trip with a get-yourself-back-in-time mindset does not play to their strengths.

Aside from attendance, there is a compelling logistics side to the argument. With two packed parking lots of student vehicles, traffic at the beginning and end of the school day is unpleasant, to say the least. An open campus would add four more periods of in-and-out traffic around Midtown. Moreover, the short gap between first and second lunches would exacerbate congestion as tardy returning vehicles would conflict with existing ones.

In addition to attendance and logistics concerns, there are also serious safety implications. After school, restaurants on Monroe Drive like Woody’s, Starbucks and Mediterranean Grill are popular destinations for students. These destinations would no doubt be similarly popular during an open lunch, but students need to cross the Monroe and 10th Street intersection to get there. This intersection is notoriously dangerous for pedestrians, and it would be irresponsible for Midtown to create more foot traffic there.

Despite the danger it poses to students, proponents of an open lunch argue that it would provide students with better meal options. However, such benefits do not outweigh the negative effects. Open lunch may offer a superior cuisine but it also endangers students, and a promise of ‘better food’ should not take priority over the health and safety of students. Why not? Explain here.

Opening up campus would also amplify economic differences between students. Restaurant options close to Midtown like Woody’s CheeseSteaks and Metro Fresh are not particularly affordable, and the gas to drive to cheaper options can be expensive. This leaves less fortunate students to stay at school and get school lunch, while more affluent students would leave campus to purchase their meals elsewhere. It’s important that Midtown’s policies affect students evenly across every economic class, and an open lunch would do just the opposite

Security has been an increasing concern at Midtown. The implementation of metal detectors and backpack searches, as well as body scanners, have been significant steps in alleviating the issue. Yet, these security measures can only be effective if they are used every time large groups of students enter the campus. Without any metal detectors at exit gates to the parking lots, this expensive new technology is rendered ineffective.

  To keep up the attendance rate, while simultaneously ensuring the safety and security of students, Midtown needs to hold strong on its closed-campus policy. While an open lunch might have an upside for some students, the rest of the student body would be forced to suffer the consequences.