School Community Embraces “Extended Passing Time” Despite Allergy-risk


Brianna Conley

A student with food allergies remains aware of her surroundings during “Extended Passing Time.”

Of the approximately 1,159 students in Walpole High School, 59 students have food-related allergies — which is less than 5% of the student population. While the community largely approves of the addition of the “Extended Passing Time,” for those students with allergies, this change has been somewhat unsettling.   

“I think I am a little more at risk because I am exposed to potential allergens in the classroom now more than before, forcing me to be more cautious,” said sophomore Delaney Murphy, a student allergic to all nuts.

In a recent survey administered to 150 students and faculty members of the school, an overwhelming 97% of participants agreed that they like the “Extended Passing Time” in this year’s schedule. More than half of the participants, 59%, agree that it is fair for students to eat in a classroom where another student may have a food allergy, largely due to the small number of students who have food allergies.

After almost three months of school, most students favor the new “Extended Passing Time,”  as they no longer have to wait hours to eat during the designated lunch block. While students are now bringing allergens into classrooms throughout Walpole High School, many teens with food allergies are aware of what they can and cannot eat, and how to react in the event that an allergic reaction occurs.

As of November 3, there have been zero cases of food-related allergic reactions in the school. “Allergies have not been an issue so far, and kids with allergies are old enough to know their surroundings,” said Principal Stephen Imbusch.

However, students with allergies now have to be much more aware of the risks around them. Even if the student is aware of his or her surroundings, traces of old food can still trigger an allergic reaction.

“I had a reaction in the school last year when I wasn’t exposed to any food at all, and snack time can increase the risk of another,” said sophomore Delany Murphy.

Some food allergies are more serious than others, only increasing the safety concerns for some students.

“Even though my allergy is only dangerous when I ingest certain foods, I still think it is important that students and staff are being conscious of those with food allergies during snack time,” said senior Kristen Mich, a student with a tree nut allergy.

Although snacks are now allowed anywhere in the school, Walpole High School has taken initiatives to cut down the risk of food-related allergic reactions.

Administrators have provided some classrooms with a pail containing cleaning supplies and a washcloth. A district wide initiative, the cleaning pails are available in classrooms for the use of students and staff to clean desks following the “Extending Passing Time,” when students are able to enjoy a snack. Since the implementation of snack time,  the cleaning pails have been the main precaution to prevent allergic reactions from occurring.

Additionally, the cafeteria is open during snack time for students to eat, offering a new option to help decrease the exposure of food throughout the school.

While Administrators have taken steps to minimize the risks of accidental allergic reactions, some students remain concerned with the addition of the “Extending Passing Time.”  Yet, with no reports of any incidents this year, the schedule change remains favorable to the majority of the Walpole High Community.