Hall Passes: Wasteful but Effective


Sophie Brissett

The trash cans, bathroom floors, and lunch tables at CHS are littered with small, yellow, rectangular slips of paper. These passes may be wasteful and disruptive, but they are the most effective option CHS has.

Every time a student desires to leave their classroom, whether it be for the bathroom, water fountain, or another teacher’s class, they are required to receive a written slip from their teacher containing their destination, the time, and a signature. While the principle of this policy makes sense, in practice the passes are wasteful and a hindrance to the flow of a lesson. Though not environmentally safe, the passes are Covid safe, and in a public high school during a pandemic it is essential to prioritize sanitation. 

Teachers go through dozens of hallway passes everyday, as described by CHS Honors Chemistry teacher Mrs. Baker, “On a block day [when] I have 3 classes a day, plus BKT, on average maybe 4 [passes] a class, so maybe 12 to 15 passes a day. That number would be higher if I wrote them for girls. I don’t write to girls because the bathroom is right there.” With passes being written to girls as well, that amounts to 30 passes from each teacher a day, which makes 150 passes from each teacher a week. With around 100 CHS teachers, that nears 1,500 passes being written on average. 

While some students are consistent in making sure their passes end up in the trash, plenty do not give the school the same effort. Hallway passes litter the bathroom floors where they have been carelessly discarded, the bathroom sinks where they have been forgotten, or the bottom of student’s backpacks where they have been mindlessly stuffed. This gives the CHS building an unappealing look and creates so much waste in the school because the passes are more often not being recycled. 

Each time a student needs a pass, the teacher is forced to halt all their current tasks and fill out the required slots of the pass. This disturbs the flow of the classroom and serves as an annoyance to many teachers. Mrs. Baker expressed this annoyance by saying, “I think students need to be more aware of when they’re interrupting. If a student comes to me at the beginning of class and wants to go to the restroom, I don’t have a problem with that because I understand we all have to go to the bathroom. I think that the thing that disrupts most is when the student out of the blue asks to go to the bathroom while I’m teaching.” Mrs. Baker did clarify that she thinks the disturbances are equally the fault of students who disrespect the teacher’s lesson time. However, she did describe her desire for a classroom where students were responsible enough to regulate their own bathroom usage, saving both the teacher and the rest of the class valuable time. 

The primary alternative to these disposable passes is a laminated pass, which would also ensure that only one student is in the bathroom at a time. However, there are certain hindrances to this idea: it is not Covid safe, because dozens of students in a day would be touching the same pass. Dr. Irizzary expressed this issue during an interview. “If someone uses the bathroom with that [reusable] pass, do you want to use it afterwards? I wish there was a better option, but it’s the easiest way for us to accomplish what we are trying to accomplish. I’d rather we not use paper all the time right now, but I’d also rather students not be exchanging things they all touch.” 

However, CHS students every day are touching the same, often unsanitary, desks for hours at a time. Mrs. Baker agrees that a reusable pass is not sanitary, but she would rather a reusable pass than a wasteful pass. “I think that the whole pass thing is minimal compared to what I see student’s doing everyday. They’re sharing water bottles, sitting close together at lunch with masks off, some teachers don’t sanitize [the desks] all the time, and I don’t really feel like that [the passes] are the methods of transmission anyway. I think going back to some kind of teacher hall pass is where they should be.” 

The current hall pass situation in CHS is less than ideal, but safer and better functioning than any other methods CHS could use. While the passes are wasteful and produce clutter, they are safe and more appealing than a pass touched by every CHS student while they use the bathroom. The hall pass issue is the best it can be right now, until some new method has been invented.