By Anneliese Ziegenbein

A new hall pass system has greeted Andover High School with the start of the 2018-2019 school year prompting different opinions among students and faculty.  

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Science teacher Ms. Holm-Andersen signs out a hall pass. (Photo by Anneliese Ziegenbein)

The previous hall pass system only required students to sign their name, the date, and time out on a paper in the classroom, and from there they could simply take the laminated pass, listing the room number and teacher, and leave without a time limit. The new system is stricter and requires that students write their name, the date, the time out, and the time five minutes from then (when they are expected to return). They must ask the teacher to sign it; then they can take the pass and leave, but they must return by the time recorded.

“The new hall passes are a big improvement over our old hall pass system,” said Assistant Principal Darlington. He highlighted that they better account for a student’s whereabouts, and also remarked, “They’re also color coded by floor so the monitors do not have to ask everybody where they’re going or what floor they’re from.”

Darlington believes the system has been helpful for teachers and stated, “A positive part of it is that there’s a lot less disruption going on in the hallways; there’s a lot less people lapping or just walking around so it helps the classroom environment.”

Ms. Fisher, a science teacher at Andover High School, noted, “Students tend to be gone for less time…there seems to be less abuse of the pass.” She appreciates that students are sticking to the five-minute time limit and said, “I used to have kids take the pass and wander out for seven to ten to fifteen minutes at a time. That has happened a lot less since they are accountable for it and they know what time they need to be back.”

Math teacher Ms. Mulert agrees that the new system has positively impacted her classroom environment thus far. She prefers it to last year’s system and said, “[Students] have been coming back really quickly and it has been easier to stop a kid from leaving before something really important happens in class.” She feels she has a greater sense of control as compared to last year when students could take the pass as they pleased. She explained that she can now keep track of who is in the hallway, and this helps to ensure that they spend less time out.

Many teachers agree that students have been leaving the classroom less often and for shorter periods of time, but how do the students feel about the new process?

Senior Ali Keamy leaves class only once or twice a day, which she adds is certainly less than in previous years. She said she feels uncomfortable interrupting the class for the teacher’s signature and followed up saying, “If [teachers] are in the middle of a lesson, they are visibly annoyed, which is understood because they have to interrupt what they are doing to sign and check the time.” She mentioned that some of her teachers will just motion to students to go without signing if they are in the middle of teaching.

Junior Genna Comparato shared a similar sentiment: “Many teachers just keep talking and quickly scribble their signature and then continue and you can just walk out.”

Another Junior, Kelvin Davila, said, “It is a lot harder than in previous years.” He, like the other students interviewed, does not prefer getting up in front of the class and having to interrupt the teacher to go to the bathroom.

Most students have observed that some teachers use the pass differently than others. “Some teachers don’t really care. They will sign it and let you go. Others will tell you to be fast, or they will be strict about when you can go,” said Davila. Getting up in front of the class has been hard for more introverted students and a lot of students feel that five minutes is not enough time. In addition, some students feel that they can no longer leave the classroom for much needed breaks or for stress relief. However, Ms. Mulert reassures those students by saying, “Sometimes you need to take a break and that’s ok. The current system still kind of allows for that, but prevents kids from losing track of time.”

Mr. Darlington is aware of the opposition from students and understands that some are a little bit too shy to ask for the pass. “I encourage them to try to get to the point where they can ask their teacher to go to the bathroom,” responded Darlington. “There are some things that have to get worked out… the most important part is that they have to have a relationship with the teacher to ask them and then they can go from there.”