Controversy Arises as New Bathroom Policies Emerge at CRHS

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Earlier today (January 12th) the school administration sent out an email to teachers explaining the new policies regarding student bathroom usage. Students will be required to sign in with a monitor before entering the bathrooms and will need to bring their ID to be allowed in once midterms are over. Once students leave the bathroom, the time they left will be recorded on a sheet of paper. In addition to this, the upstairs bathrooms will be permanently locked, though the bathrooms in the DECA hallway will be open during both lunch waves. This leaves students with only one option: Walk to the downstairs bathrooms across from the school store or don’t go at all. 

This announcement comes at a time when the locking of school bathrooms has been a concern of many students. For instance, the bathrooms across from the gym are locked during X-block despite them being closest to the cafeteria, the area where most students go during those fifteen minutes between classes. Secondly, the bathrooms in the DECA hallway have been locked all year, a disadvantage to students who take music classes in the band room as they are the nearest bathrooms. While the reasoning behind the new policies has not been officially established by the administration, it is widely speculated that it has to do with the amount of students who use the bathrooms to vape or smoke, along with recent vandalism. Still, many are wondering the same question: do these issues justify punishing all students? Will these policies have much effect on resolving said issues?

“People are going to continue doing what they’re doing. I don’t believe having a teacher outside the bathrooms will stop students from misusing them,” says Sawyer Stone (junior). Another student exclaimed that “It’s weird having someone outside the bathrooms. It feels like a lack of privacy, and as someone who’s ‘pee-shy,’ it feels invasive.” Two sophomores, Wardah Yaghi and Wasim Chater, shared similar views. “[Restricting bathroom usage] would never happen in real life. This isn’t teaching us anything and all the issues in the bathrooms will continue. Punish the people who aren’t following the rules, not the whole school,” says Wasim. “I don’t think that students having to bring their ID and check in before using the bathroom will change anything that’s happening within the bathrooms. Teachers are already strict about students going to the bathroom, so further restricting usage doesn’t make any sense,” stated Wardah. 

Angelina Monarca (senior), agrees with the opinions of other Coginchaug students: “I’m going to college next year, and this isn’t preparing me for that. This isn’t going to change vaping or smoking in the bathrooms at all.” Mrs. Legace, a history teacher at CRHS, shared her outlook on the new policies: “The school first and foremost has to be concerned with the safety and security of students, and if I were a student, I would be very upset with the small group of students whose use of the bathrooms caused [the upstairs bathrooms] to be shut down.” Mrs. Anderson, a CRHS science teacher, explains that “The bathroom issues are not new and continue to get worse. Many students have voiced concerns and some avoid using them altogether. We need to have an environment where students feel safe and supported. It is every individual’s responsibility to conduct themselves appropriately. We have to work together to improve and make a positive change.” Overall, opinions seem to vary greatly between students and teachers, though the vast majority of students seem unhappy with the new changes.

I talked with our school principal, Mrs. Stone, about the new policies and to have a few remaining questions answered. When I asked about why the bathrooms are becoming so heavily restricted, Mrs. Stone stated that they are “often being vandalized. Groups of children are using the bathrooms for inappropriate reasons, and so we want to have some data as to how students are using them and how to support opening the bathrooms back up.” In response to this, I asked her why specifically the upstairs bathrooms are being shut down. Mrs. Stone replied that “[there are] only enough people to monitor one bathroom, either upstairs or downstairs. My hope is that we will make the bathroom a safe place for students who currently do not feel comfortable using them.” All in all, it seems that issues regarding student bathroom usage will be persistent throughout this school year and will likely remain a controversial topic for some time.