Whisper-only policy lifted at Aspen Elementary cafeteria | AspenTimes.com

Whisper-only policy lifted at Aspen Elementary cafeteria

The principal and assistant principal at Aspen Elementary School turned over cafeteria duties to the teaching staff this week, effectively putting an end to a whisper-only policy that had been implemented this fall.

Parent Teacher Organization President Alyssa Genshaft said Wednesday that teachers resumed supervision during cafeteria lunch hours, and based on her conversations with them, "everything seems back to normal now."

"The teachers seem happy about the change, and it has not impacted them at all," Genshaft said. "They weren't told to run the cafeteria a certain way."

Over the past few weeks, Genshaft had fielded a growing number of complaints from parents, and some teachers, that during lunchtime, children were instructed to whisper by using a "1-inch voice" rule, meaning they could only open their mouth 1 inch and use a very clear voice. Several parents told The Aspen Times that their children had been intimidated and made to feel uncomfortable by the whisper-only enforcement.

The change in cafeteria decorum had come after both the school principal and the vice principal assumed cafeteria duty to give teachers extra time to get their work done.

Principal Doreen Goldyn, who could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday, said last week that she and her assistant were simply trying to keep children well-behaved during lunch hours because of the small size of the cafeteria.

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"We want them to have good manners and to talk quietly," Goldyn said at the time.

But a group of parents had been upset about the principals blowing whistles when the kids got too loud and using signs — which said "Stop" and "Shh" — to deter them.

Genshaft said she discussed the issue briefly with both principals Tuesday. She said that she suggested playing classical music during cafeteria hours, as studies have shown that it has a calming effect on young children. Another consideration is adding sound buffers, Genshaft said.