Every school day from 11 to 12:30 in the afternoon, students at Longview High School let out for lunch in three 30-minute periods . Around 700 students are there at a time. The problem is the school cafeteria has a capacity of only 460 people.
"You have the potential for not just fire but if you have any disturbance of any kind fight or something then there's a rush to the exit, to get out" according to Longview Fire Marshal Davis Whitehurst. Parents were so concerned that it was too crowded and their kids didn't have enough time to eat, they voiced their concern to the school. The school then called in the fire marshal's office.
"The decision was made this year from four, to three lunch periods, which the potential for over crowding was exacerbated" Whitehurst says. Many parents worry if there was an emergency, the kids would trample each other as they try to get out the exits.
Parents like Jackie Allen, who's son is a senior, say their kids are now in a constant rush. "When the bell rings, he takes off running and by the time he gets to the cafeteria, gets his food there's no place to sit," says Allen.
The fire marshal has given the school 14 days to make adjustments and add a 4th-30 minute lunch period.