As of next school year, parents will no longer be allowed to eat lunch with their children inside Palmerton Area School District facilities.
Superintendent Carol Boyce brought the matter up as part of a safety discussion at a workshop meeting of the board of school directors on Tuesday.
In light of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Boyce said the district's Safety Committee felt it best that parents no longer be able to come into schools and have lunch with their children.
Exceptions would be made on occasions like Thanksgiving, or unusual circumstances on a case-by-case basis, Boyce said.
Boyce said the situation has especially manifested itself at the elementary level.
"With the vast number of custodial issues that we have today, particularly at S.S. Palmer, it just caused concern because we're allowing parents access not only to their own child, but other children as well," Boyce said. "We are not in a position to eat lunch with every parent who comes in."
Boyce said the Safety Committee suggested all of the district's facilities should have the same procedure in place.
Mary Brumbach, principal, S.S. Palmer, elaborated on the situation.
"We even have situations where parents come in, and depending on age, the students don't want their parents to leave," Brumbach said. "It's not a residential facility."
Boyce then recommended that the principals attempt to come up with a statement to unify what the district's procedure is in time for the board's May workshop.
Director Sherry Haas said she took exception to the fact that parents have been allowed to enter the building and have lunch with their children.
"I worked in that school voluntarily every Wednesday for seven years," Haas said. "I did not eat lunch with my daughter, and I wouldn't have ever thought of it."
After the meeting, Brumbach expounded on the matter.
"We don't have a choice," she said. "We have to limit people coming into our school."
Brumbach added times have changed.
"We need to stop thinking the way it was 10, 20, 30 years ago, because it isn't that way any more," she said. "Sometimes I worry that we take our safety at Palmerton for granted, and my job is to take care of these children when they are in this building."
On the whole, Brumbach said it's a narrow percentage of parents who actually partake in the activity.
"We're talking about a small number here, but the small number we're talking about causes a huge concern," she said. "I've never been in a district where parents could come in and eat with their kids."
Brumbach then offered her take on the situation.
"I think some of the parents do it because maybe they don't want their children to feel left out, but most people don't do it," she said. "Most kids want to socialize with their friends at lunch."