HAZLET TOWNSHIP, NJ – Students in Hazlet Township at the Raritan Valley Elementary School returned to school to a new lunchtime routine. Students were given only 15 minutes to eat their lunch before Principal John Vederosa blew a whistle to alert them lunch was done and they needed to mask up.
This policy was implemented by the principal who said it was based on health and safety guidelines by the Monmouth County Department of Health.
After complaints from parents and children who couldn’t scoff down their entire lunch in 15 minutes, Vederosa today said he will no longer time lunch breaks and blow whistles at students.
“I’d like to begin by apologizing for concerns brought by the cafeteria procedure implemented yesterday and to assure you that henceforth, we will not be timing lunches,” Verderosa said in a letter to parents. “Students will be permitted to socialize with one another as they have done in the past.”
Verderosa said after the students finish eating their lunch they will be reminded to mask up and social distance for the remainder of the lunch period.
“I assure you, my intentions were good,” Verderosa said.
Verderosa said his intention was to have every student stop and start eating at the same time in a similar manner that used in military boot camps in America, where drill instructors give military recruits just a few minutes to eat and whatever isn’t eaten in the short period of time is thrown away.
At that time, Verderosa would blow his whistle to order students to cease eating and mask up.
Verderosa has been accused by parents of mask-shaming students and at the end of his letter, he blamed four students who disobeyed his cafeteria policy for sitting next to a COVID-19 positive student.
“I do want to share that this morning I was informed another student tested positive but because the 4 students who sat next to the infected students at lunch were unmasked for less than 15 minutes, they did not have to quarantine.”
It’s not the first time Verderosa has been accused of mask-shaming students. Lyndsey Ellis, a mother of a student in the school said Verderosa had sent her child home and threatened to have police officers escort the child and their father out of the school by police because the student’s mask was ‘unacceptable’.
Ellis claims Verderosa’s action against her child was in response to her criticism of his lunch whistle policy.