With the start of this new school year came a few new rules and restrictions on campus. Some of these new rules include new bathroom hall passes, stricter policies against cell phones in classes and a required homeroom.
In order to get some background knowledge on these rules, I interviewed Santa Barbara High School principal, Elise Simmons, as well as Nate Mendoza, one of our assistant principals.
Simmons explained an off-and-away system where students aren’t allowed to have their phones during class time. “Off-and-away is district wide, happening in every school and that came about because teachers were very frustrated across our entire district”. Simmons explained that the district came to the conclusion that during learning time, cell phones should be off-and-away. “What that means in terms of what it looks like in a classroom, is really gonna depend on the teacher,” she said. As far as the bathroom hall passes, Simmons explained that kids wandering around the campus became a big issue at the end of last school year. “If one teacher lets out one kid, there’s 100 kids out of their classrooms, now imagine two or three kids out of every classroom’’ said Simmons. “We devised a system, working with the teachers… It’s a color coding system, and the clipboards were so that it was easy for us to see the color and also that the teacher is signing it, so that the teacher is aware that this student is leaving the room,” said Simmons. When asked if they’ve noticed changes in these student behaviors, Mr. Mendoza added, “it’s really nice to see a clipboard and know where they’re from… I just think the expectations are set now, before it was just a go and maybe you come back in fifteen minutes, I think we can still improve in the main hall, but it’s a work in progress,”. We then moved on to talk about ‘homeroom’, “first and foremost homeroom is a work in progress, and we changed the name of it because we wanted to see it as a space where it becomes a safe space for students, like a place where they could find home or community,”. Simmons explained it’s by grade level so that it’s easy for grade level presentations and assemblies. “I know one of the biggest things that some teachers and students are frustrated about is that they want to be able to go to another teacher to like, take a test.” Simmons shared that they are working on a testing center but they are avoiding having kids be moving around campus so much that it creates a problem with not being in class.
There have been many mixed emotions about all these new restrictions from the students as well as the staff. Many students are complaining about these new policies, while others don’t really mind them and are quickly adjusting to these new set rules. I interviewed a couple of students on campus who shared their opinions. “I don’t like the new bathroom coding system…I don’t like carrying around clipboards and lanyards, it’s kinda nasty.” Jeannie Mendoza, a senior here at SBHS shared. I asked her if she thinks these rules have been effective. She responded saying that the phone hotels haven’t been. “One of my teachers makes us put our phones in the phone hotels. That’s how she takes attendance. But there are still some people who say they don’t have a phone but they have it with them and use it during class.” I also talked to Arely Aceves. Arely told me she is fine with these new changes, “My only problem is with the amount of time they give us for bathroom breaks, five minutes is not enough” she said.
Seeing that there have been many different opinions from the students on campus I also wanted to talk to a teacher on campus and see how they’ve adjusted to the new rules and also their personal opinions on them. I talked to Maria Marzicola, a Spanish teacher here on campus and she told me that she doesn’t feel like these rules have been a big change for her because she had a similar system before these rules were applied with the bathroom pass rules. “I limited it to one student at a time, because that makes the student accountable and it makes that student be considerate and hopefully come back within five-six minutes so if somebody else needs that pass then they can use it,” said Marzicola. When asked about the phone hotels Marzicola excitedly responded saying, “I love the phone hotels!” She added that she’s used phone hotels for previous classes and says she sees so many positive changes, “…students are not messing around with their phones, there is more engagement, I do not have to tell them to put it away….I love it, it works very well in the classroom..” Marzicola said. Lastly, I asked Marzicola how she feels about these new homerooms to which she admitted she is struggling a bit to adjust.he says that teachers are required to present a lot of information to students and believes it takes away from the opportunity of the students to get things done like study and homework since the announcements take so long. She added that she is also questioning its effectiveness because she isn’t really able to have a student come in to make up a test during homeroom like previous years.
There are students who are clearly struggling to adjust to these new rules and requirements but we hope that as the year goes on, we are able to get used to them or agree to some changes.