Central York School District has decided to end a "long-standing tradition" of allowing parents and guardians to eat lunch with their children in the school cafeteria.

The decision was made this week as a follow-up to school security conversations Central is having after the Sandy Hook shooting.

"We realize this is a long-standing tradition in our district, but believe this is one way we can enhance the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff at this time," Central officials wrote on the district's Facebook page.

The move drew strong reactions on both sides, as that post alone has drawn nearly 100 comments in one day.

Central spokeswoman Julie Romig said the district is scrutinizing all areas of its security policies, but preventing parent visitations during lunch is "where we have an opportunity to minimize risk."

Parents and guardians were allowed to eat lunch at the school regardless if they had clearances with law enforcement, as is the requirement for volunteers in school.

Suzy Horner-Hostler, a parent of three Central students, said she's eaten lunch with all of her kids over the years but thought of it as a privilege.

"I think that children's safety is a priority and comes before any privilege," she said.

Many of the Facebook comments echoed Horner-Hostler's sentiments, as people said Central is doing the right thing in putting security first.


But Central also drew criticism from people who think the district went to draconian measures.

Kira Wagner, also a parent of three students, said she regularly stopped in for lunch when her children were in elementary school; they are now at the middle and high schools. Wagner said it was a "nice opportunity... to reconnect with them."

Central has generally been supportive of Wagner's role in her children's education, but taking away lunch visitation seems like a public school that's "parenting our children instead of allowing the parents to do so."

"Not letting parents come in for lunch is the beginning of a slide down a slippery slope. What's next? No recess because there might be someone with a gun hiding in the corn fields next to the school?" Wagner said. "It scares me to think about the America these school children will face when they graduate in 12 years."

Central parent Glenn Smith said when he's visited his daughter at lunch, he, like all parents, has to stand before a camera and get buzzed in, and then sign in at the office.

Placing a moratorium on the lunch program rather than abolishing it seems more appropriate, Smith said, as he takes no issue with Central wanting to pause and review all of its security procedures.

Central has reached out to Smith to talk about his concerns, however, he said. And he believes that in the end, Central and the parents all just want children to be safe.

"There is no perfect solution," Smith said.