Since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, Berkeley High School (BHS) has seen a steep uptake in disruption and violence on campus. Thirteen fire alarms have gone off, mostly caused by students intentionally pulling them either to get out of class or just to cause mayhem. Additionally, BHS has suffered an abnormally high rate of fights this year, making the teaching environment all the more difficult. In order to stop this spike in disruptive activities, we need better enforcement of order on campus, and a great tool to help security officers do so is by using hall passes.
Hall passes are primarily a way to ensure that everyone is accounted for on campus. With hall passes, those that are not in class have a piece of paper with details about where they are going and what class they are coming from. This allows security guards to easily tell the difference between the students who have permission to be out of the classroom and those who do not. From the standpoint of security, this information is vital to prevent disruption, as no one will be able to wander the halls aimlessly.
In the past, teacher usage of hall passes has not been completely consistent, with some teachers letting kids leave class and go to the bathroom without using a pass. While that may have been more acceptable prior to the current school environment, several factors have made that increasingly dangerous.
For one, safety officers are facing a huge staffing problem, with only eight security officers for the entire school. If teachers aren’t using hall passes, that makes the job of security officers even more difficult. Students cause major disruptions while out of class and on campus; we see this every day with the frequent false fire alarms and fights.
Having students roaming about on campus certainly contributes to these disruptions, so hall passes need to be utilized to keep order on campus. It isn’t as if using hall passes is that difficult — filling one in with the necessary details only takes a couple of seconds out of a lesson.
The only argument against the benefits of hall passes might be the issue of sanitation; during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all become hyperaware of unsanitary systems and having a shared hall pass that students take into the bathroom seems like a terrible idea. However, this can easily be solved by just using a disposable pass.
It is vital to have an orderly learning environment at BHS. Without it, both teaching and learning become more difficult, and student-caused disruptions hinder educational growth. According to Safety Officer Cornelius Smith, “The purpose of a hall pass is to make sure that everyone on campus has a destination, so that everything flows smoothly.” Who wouldn’t want that?