LONDON, ONT. -- Strict pandemic rules that keep classes separated inside schools, aren’t being followed by many students each lunch hour.

Just hours after a student who attended Saunders Secondary School was confirmed to have COVID-19, the lunch bell saw groups of students meet up at nearby fast food restaurants.

“We should be more socially distanced,” said one grade nine student sitting with friends from other classrooms.

“We got our classroom group and then we have this group,” explained another student. “We aren’t with anybody else most of the time, so I think it’s not great, but it’s okay.”

Today students returned to class knowing that a student at Saunders Secondary has tested positive for COVID-19.

Teachers and students in the class have been directed by the Middlesex London Health Unit to quarantine at home.

But students mingling at lunch were not very concerned.

“It doesn’t really bother us unless we knew the person, or they are in our class. It doesn’t phase us,” explained a student who had met with friends from other classes to eat lunch off school property.

For people who spend time in the same businesses as the students, lunch hour mingling is unsettling.

“That’s actually the worry,” says Murtez Alrohani who works nearby. “The younger people, they have better immunity, but for the older folks it’s a problem.”

But students who spoke with CTV News say they’re careful around others. The lunch hour gatherings help them maintain social ties that are very important for young people.

“It’s hard to stay away from our friends, especially when we haven’t seen them in six months.”

The Thames Valley District School Board says secondary school students are ‘encouraged to stay at school for lunch’.

The board had no one available for an interview about whether students at Saunders Secondary received additional education on COVID-19 precautions since the confirmed case.