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Bathroom Passes Are Unnecessary and Unsanitary

November 4, 2021


Hadley Norris

Bathroom passes are outdated, unnecessary, and unsanitary. Photo courtesy of Hadley Norris.

Bathroom passes are an outdated, unnecessary, and unsanitary way for students to be monitored in the hallways. As a school, we are trying to prevent COVID-19 cases if possible, meaning excluding practices that put students at the risk of getting sick. Even if COVID-19 didn’t exist, bathroom passes are still outdated and a way for students to transmit illness. The fact that we even have bathroom passes is strange because there are so many privileges in high school that exceed being able to go and come back from the bathroom without supervision. 

The number of bathroom passes per classroom is problematic for emergencies, with each room just having just one. What is meant to stop overcrowded bathrooms actually stops students from going to the bathroom when they need to.

“Bathroom passes are unfair because they don’t allow more than one person to go at a time,” Sanika Purohit ‘24 said. “You don’t get to choose when you need to go.”

Yes, teachers have a valid fear of students abusing bathroom passes as they are in charge of the well-being of that student. But ultimately, kids will find a way to do what they want. Whether that is skipping class, getting out of an assignment, or wandering the halls with or without a pass. 

“A kid just left in the middle of class when he wanted to skip,” Eliza Kotick ‘22 said. “The teacher told him to take the pass for the bathroom but instead he took the pass home and now we don’t have it for the classroom.”

The problem is that while it tries to keep some kids in check, it also negatively affects well-meaning kids. The purpose of bathroom passes is to monitor students. However, the outcome compromises students’ health due to the unsanitary nature of passes and wastes precious class time to ask or sign out.

“I think we shouldn’t have bathroom passes because it’s a waste of class time signing in and out when we should be learning,” Maia Tang ‘24 said. “Bathroom passes realistically don’t get wiped down after every use.” 

There are a lot of differences in bathroom passes around the school with what’s used as a pass, the cleanliness of the pass, and the flexibility of the teacher. Some teachers have their students wipe passes after every use, but this is the exception, not the rule.

“As a teacher, I don’t have time to wipe the pass after each use,” French teacher Madame Anne Macharia said. “Asking students to wipe down a pass, I don’t know if they will do it properly. If we continue to have passes, I think we should ask students to use hand sanitizer before and after using the restroom.”

We are in high school, so everyone’s hope, students included, is that we wash our hands after using the bathroom, but this is just a hope. 

“It’s unsanitary because I don’t know how many people have touched it, and some people honestly don’t wash their hands,” Purohit said.

If every teacher agreed to wipe them down, or heaven forbid the students, then that would fix part of the issue. However, this likely won’t happen. The importance of wiping down and sanitizing passes is tremendous for COVID-19 and the only solution I see for them staying. 

“Science has shown that surfaces are negligible vectors of transmission,” Chemistry teacher Mr. Thomas Nielsen said. “Passes on lanyards are best for sanitary reasons.”

Although unlikely, surface transmission is possible, especially with kids going to the bathroom one after the other. They touch the passes with hands that have been in contact with their eyes, nose, or mouth. Depending on the material of the pass, this differs. However, I think the school could make much more effort to eliminate the possibility from the table. 

“I think we should have bathroom passes otherwise some kids would wander the halls without direction,” Mr. Nielsen said. 

Is that true? If we didn’t have bathroom passes, would more kids be in the hallways than before? I don’t think so because bathroom passes don’t even work in the first place. 

“Bathroom passes allow the hall monitors to know who should be in the hallway and who should not,” Coach Christopher Hackerd said. “So that everyone is where they need to be.”

The goal of having passes is for students to be monitored, but if they are not being monitored while in the hallways, what is the point? What if teachers didn’t do anything when a student has gone longer than ten minutes. I have tested this and found out of the five times I was in the hallway without a pass, I was asked once where I was going. I made loops around the school for ten to 15 minutes in three classes, and I wasn’t even stopped. This isn’t the teachers’ fault. They shouldn’t have to micromanage where a student has been when trying to focus on their job, teaching. This shows that the system could help teachers and students by changing things for cleaner, more efficient time management. This shows that the system is already broken. Why not fix it?

If there is no way to get away from passes, students that I have talked to would like passes to be smaller and on a lanyard, so it doesn’t become inconvenient.

“They are unnecessary and unsanitary because you don’t know where they’ve been. There’s no place to put the bathroom pass!” Prisha Kakliya ‘23 said

At the very least, with COVID-19, I think sanitizing our passes after we use them isn’t too much to ask, and letting students go to the bathroom when they need to is a bare minimum. 

“I think they are really gross because every single student uses the same passes,” Kotick said. “You don’t know where they are putting these passes, if they are taking them into the stalls, or if they don’t sanitize them.”

Most students think that sign-out sheets work better than bathroom passes, especially when using their own pencil. Some other solutions that kids came up with were clips on their shirts, slips given by teachers, or notes. 

“Having a note given by your teacher or not having anything at all is better than what we have now,” Kotick said. “Bathroom passes are a lot of work.”

We also need to realize that what may have worked decades ago might be a practice that harms both students and teachers and isn’t even being monitored as closely as the school thinks it is. Not just that, the challenges brought by COVID-19 and the number of germs that could be transmitted make passes an unnecessary inconvenience that students would like to avoid completely or change for the better.

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About the Writer
Photo of Hadley Norris
Hadley Norris, Graphics Editor

Class of 2024

I look forward to designing graphics this year, you can always find me in the caption :)

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