By Jace Digiacomo and Glenn Sample, website editor and staff writer
Saegertown students were surprised to find out about the new hall pass system this school year. The new hall pass cards are small cards that students are required to get signed when they use the restroom. Students have one a.m. pass and one p.m. pass for the day, and two emergencies per month. Some students see no problem with the hall pass cards, while others find them unfair.
Despite the mixed feelings about this new system, there is a clear reason why it was implemented. “Our school was experiencing a high rate of vandalism in the bathrooms,” Assistant Principal Philip Young said. “I spoke with other administrators across the county, and they shared the hall pass cards with me. They had success with reducing vandalism using the cards, so I felt compelled to try them here.”
According to Young, many items were destroyed last year such as paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers, toilet paper dispensers, sinks, toilets, mirrors, stall doors, lockers, and more. The damages cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace.
While some students support the new system for this reason, others pointed out different reasons for the pass. “Some people overuse the restroom to get out of class,” seventh-grader Jack Williams said. Junior high social studies teacher Kara Bridger agrees: “I think it’s [the card] helping cut down on things like getting out of class or, you know, just kind of leaving Willy Nilly,” Bridger said. “From a teacher’s perspective, I think it’s great and actually working pretty well. I think it’s fair because I feel that everyone knows why it was put in place and if those who are doing things they shouldn’t have been doing don’t recognize why then they definitely need a wake-up call.”
Now in its second month, the system seems to be working well to reduce vandalism and students getting out of class. “The teachers have given me very positive feedback since the implementation of the hall pass cards,” Young said. “I feel there is a lot less traffic in the halls and restrooms during class.”
While the hall pass may be effective, some think it’s unfair. “It’s not fair to the students who don’t misbehave,” senior Hazel Peel said. “Eighteen-year-olds shouldn’t need a signed pass to go to the bathroom if they need to.”
Even though there are two daily passes on the card, students are not necessarily restricted to that. “If someone needs an extra emergency pass for some reason, and they’re never asking, then they would definitely be able to go.” Bridger said. Young agreed: “Students who build relationships with their teachers and only use the hall pass as needed should never be told they can’t use the restroom.”
Despite the controversy surrounding this new system, it seems like it won’t be sticking around too long. Cambridge Springs High School is piloting eHallPass. EHallPass is an app through which students will request a hall pass through their iPad.
According to an article in Edsurge, students who want to use the restroom or visit the library or other office will pull up an app on their iPad and bring it to the teacher, who will enter an access code to grant permission. A digital timer will begin that shows anyone who might see the student in the hallway how long they’ve been out of class, along with information about where they are supposed to be going.
Over 1,000 schools across the country are already using eHallPass, and it seems that it isn’t all smooth sailing yet. “I personally feel the eHallPass is hard to use,” said Audrey Bullock, member of the Cambridge Springs Pitchfork staff. “It often glitches, and we can only use the browser version for it to work in our school. However, it may get easier when we use it more often.”
According to Mr. Young, Saegertown will be transitioning to this system very soon. “Most other schools have switched to using eHallPass as a way to track student passes even more effectively than the hall pass cards,” Mr. Young said. “I intend to switch to this app in November.”
(Photo illustration by Luthea Sweeney.)