A Connecticut town has announced a new rule that will prohibit parents and guardians from eating with elementary school students during lunch time — and some parents aren’t too happy about the change, reports say.
Elliott Landon, Superintendent of Darien Public Schools, announced the rule in an email to parents last month, saying that they would no longer be able to sit with their children while they eat in elementary school lunchrooms, according to Darien News Online.
“For educational reasons, students of this age need to learn how to function independently under the supervision of a trained educational professional without parental distraction,” Landon wrote, according to the publication.
The new rule didn’t sit well with some parents, who went to a board meeting to voice their concerns.
“The action taken to cut the program allowing parents to come to some of the elementary schools really felt like a punch in the gut,” Darien parent and resident Jessica Xu said at the board meeting, according to Darien News.
Another parent, Terry Steadman, added: “There’s many reasons why a parent would want to interact with their children throughout the day. Maybe they’re going through family issues, maybe they miss a child, it’s their birthday.”
Xu told the Associated Press that on a typical day up to seven parents would be in the cafeteria of her child’s school. Darien Board of Education chairman Tara Ochman told the AP that the number of parents at lunch had begun to impact the school.
“We believe that schools exist for children, and we work to develop the skills necessary for students to grow into engaged members of society.” Ochman said in a statement. “We work every day on this mission so that our students embrace their next steps confidently and respectfully.”
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Another parent and resident, Elizabeth Lane, agreed, telling Darien News that not letting parents attend lunch was a good way to teach the young children social skills.
“Putting a parent in changes the dynamic dramatically,” Lane said. “They have to learn how to deal on their own.”
Officials with the school system did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
Kelly Ann Franzese, who worked as a special education therapist in Weston, said she’s seen how parent visits to the lunchroom could have a negative impact.
“From a professional perspective, when we’re the ones left dealing with your child when you leave, it wasn’t good,” Franzese said. “We would call them helicopter moms.”
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