A red line designates areas for male and female students in the cafeteria of the Ruyang Experimental High School in Henan Province. (Photo: Sina Weibo/Henan University of Technology)
A high school in Henan Province is segregating students at lunchtime as a way to prevent them from developing romantic relationships that officials say would otherwise distract from their studies.
In particular, school officials are aiming to prevent boys and girls from "feeding each other" - a public display of affection often seen among young couples in China.
A red line on the ground of the Ruyang Experimental High School cafeteria demarcates two zones for male and female students, while assigned cafeteria monitors patrol the more than 3,000 students and take photos of any infractions of mixed seating or other violations, Henan-based newspaper Dahe Daily reported Sunday.
"Even seats are assigned," said a junior at the school. "They're telling us how to eat as well as managing our other time."
The principal, Li Xinnian, explained the pilot program was implemented last week in order to stamp out the food flirting, which he sees as a "bad influence."
"Puppy love in high school distracts students from their studies, and the school is taking action to prevent such relationships and put an end to feeding each other in the cafeteria," said Li.
He added the new rule is not "compulsory."
"If we find students who violate the rule, we would just give them a talking-to and not criticize them in front of the school," Li added.
So far, the policy has had the desired effect.
"We've seen a sharp decrease in mixed seating, and no one has been feeding each other," said Li.