Some students think flip flop policy is a flop, but administrators disagree

December 12, 2018 — by Sandhya Sundaram and Eileen Bui

School points to a decrease in hall traffic as one reason new policy is successful.

As first semester comes to a close, flip flops of various colors are now a common sight on campus, whether they’re hanging on hooks near classroom doors, swinging from students’ wrists as they walk through the hallways or sitting in designated boxes installed in bathrooms.

At the start of the year,  flip flops were introduced as the new bathroom passes and a signal to roving administrators and campus supervisors that students are outside of their classrooms for legitimate reasons.

So far, students and administrators seem to have different opinions on the effectiveness of the policy. While administrators are in favor of it — assistant principal Brian Thompson noted “much less traffic in the hallways during instructional time” — numerous students The Falcon spoke to see multiple faults in new policy’s execution.  

Thompson said that the primary goal of the policy was to have students return to class at a reasonable time when using the restroom during class. In previous years, he said students would gather other kids out of class, sometimes standing outside classrooms to pull out their friends, and then hang out, take long strolls around campus or (in some cases) gather in bathrooms to juul, a form of vaping. Campus supervisors and administrators were constantly having to chase students down and return them to classrooms and never knew who didn’t have a class and who was AWOL from a class.

With the implementation of the flip flop policy, students now have designated areas to use the restroom based on the location of their classroom. Since the flips flops for each classroom are color coded by the section of campus it is located in, it is easy for staff to identify students who have strayed from where they’re supposed to be. In addition, students must go to the bathroom one at a time, leaving their cellphones in their classrooms, and return promptly.

Thompson said that at times, administrators and supervisors still stop students wandering in the hallways during class and monitor them, but for the most part, students have followed the policy.

“Our students are great, and they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing much better than they were doing in years past before we had this policy,” Thompson said.

In contrast, junior Sharan Bal said that she believes that few students actually take the policy seriously, since she frequently sees students walking around campus with friends or on their phones without a flip flop. Furthermore, while some teachers follow the policy strictly, others aren’t as strict and let students leave classrooms without flip flops.

Bal also said that the implementation of color coding and the designation of areas for breaks seem effective in theory, but don’t perform in actuality.

“It puts fear into the minds of students, but I feel like there aren’t many active hall monitors or teachers that check if someone has the correct flip flop,” Bal said.

With regards to the rise of juuling among high schoolers, Thompson said that the policy doesn’t necessarily completely solve the problem, but rather helps discourage the issue by taking away pressure for students to meet up with others during class.

“I know that it’s not perfect and that can still happen, but it’s definitely less than what it used to be,” Thompson said.

On the other hand, junior Armina Mayya said that those who want to juul can find a way to do so during tutorial, lunch and time before and after school in the bathroom even if it’s not during instructional time.

“Just having a hall pass does not help the situation,” Mayya said. “A hall pass doesn’t keep students from taking things [i.e. phones, juuls] with them to the bathroom.”

Bal said that a better approach to curb juuling would be to have assemblies for classes to learn about recent FDA bans on certain juul pods, the health effects and punishments students could receive for juuling.

Another concern expressed by numerous students is the lack of hygiene in carrying a flip flop touched by many other students, especially since they are frequently brought into bathrooms.

According to Bal, even though there are flip flop holders in bathrooms, many students do not use them and take flip flops inside bathroom stalls with them.

“One time I got a flip flop and it was wet and I did not want to use it,” Bal said.

In response to these concerns, Thompson said that the restrooms have cubbies to keep the flip flops in, and so do classrooms. Additionally, students can hold the holder attached to the flip flop instead of the actual flip flop, and some teachers keep sprays to disinfect the passes.

Thompson said that in the future, the school will keep using some for of hall pass, whether be it flip flops or something else.

“I’m open to talking with students and working with our Leadership class if they have ideas or suggestions,” Thompson said. “We’re always open towards working with our students.”

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