Teachers Monitor Hallways and Bathrooms

Posted on March 15, 2012

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News | Christina Manero

The change in semesters is appropriately associated with “new.”  Students begin new classes with new teachers and expectations.  Teachers are charged with the task of learning all the names of their new students and each one’s abilities.  This semester, however, a different sort of change occurred at the beginning of the second semester.  Teachers now have a duty to monitor traffic into and out of one bathroom and the Jay Freeze Memorial Lobby each block.  They are fulfilling this duty during their preparatory periods.
The new policy has been implemented due to a number of undesirable circumstances.  Mrs. Marcucci explains why this is necessary, elaborating on reports of “graffiti and possibly smoking [in the bathrooms].”  In years past, hall monitors would have kept this sort of behavior in check, but recent budget cuts have reduced the number of hall monitors in the building.  So, the duty of supervising students entering and exiting the bathrooms fell to the staff.
However, it is not as though teachers have had their preparatory time taken away from them. Mr. Johnston stated that “the bathroom policy was something…derived from the contractual duties of the staff…The staff had the opportunity to collaborate on how the duties would be covered.” This collaboration involved staff members with the same preparatory periods forming a rotation cycle.  For example, the A-block teachers may  cycle through duties every two weeks, while the D-block teachers may just switch halfway through the semester. This is why students see many of the same teachers sitting by the bathrooms each day.
Most teachers, when asked if they had ever had to fulfill a similar duty, stated that they had not in 20 or 25 years.  Mrs. Marcucci noted: “I had lunch duty when I started [working here]; this is probably less hours.”  In addition, Dr. Smith recounted that she and the other teachers “used to check the bathrooms because there were reports of smoking.  But that was 10 years ago, and we haven’t had that problem since.”
Go back further than that, however; and one will find that teacher’s schedules were filled with even more responsibilities.  Mr. Eickhoff explained that he has had “bathroom patrol, lunch duty, study hall, hall duty [and so on].  In those days, [hall duty] included checking in the bathrooms.”  These sorts of duties were more common in the days “before block scheduling.  There were eight periods in a day, teachers taught five classes, had duties during one and prep during the other two.  In addition, teachers had bus duty two or three times a year.”
As Mr. Johnston put it, the change in policy has been “met with mixed reviews. Some have said it is not a big deal while others have expressed their concerns.”
It comes as no surprise that teachers are among those who have expressed concerns.  As Dr. Smith explained, “My prep period is there to give me time to set up my labs. [The policy] has changed my routine because I have to find another time to prep for my classes, especially AP Biology.”  However, she added that the policy is just “trying to keep the school  safer,” and that she understands the importance of that.   Still, there is no doubt that this new procedure has changed the way teachers use their prep periods.
The disparity in reactions from the students is fairly obvious.  Students such as Dan MacFarland, for example, feel that “it’s kind of an invasion of privacy. [The teachers] are not going to be in the bathroom to see whose doing stuff they shouldn’t be.”  On the other hand, there are many students that see this as only marginally important and invasive. Julie Steele transferred to STHS at the beginning of this year, and insists that this policy is minimal compared to her previous experience.  In her previous school, she recounts, “if there was vandalism, they would close the bathrooms entirely.  So you had to ask a dean to use the bathroom if it was an emergency and they would wait outside the bathroom for you.”
For all the mixed reactions, there have been few, if any, reports of disrespect toward the new bathroom monitors.  When questioned about the students she has interacted with each day, Mrs. Marcucci “noticed how many very polite students we have.  [There have been] very few gripes.”  Dr. Smith expressed a similar sentiment; “The students know the rule and they’re following it…this is possibly because it’s their teachers, whom they respect and have relationship with.”  She feels that the positive attitude of most students indicates that it was “a couple of kids doing what they weren’t supposed to.”
Mixed feelings on the new policy have spread throughout the school. Still, students and teachers alike must adhere to the protocol despite, or because of, individual feelings on the matter.  Whether one is opposed to, in favor of, or indifferent to the new policy, the question of adherence is not up for debate.

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