Digital defecation: RJR gets a new bathroom policy


Photo provided by Lilly Zaks: After returning from the second-floor bathroom, sophomore Olivia Bland scans the “digital hall pass” QR code on her phone.

Brandon Schroeder and Lilly Zaks, Staff Writers

    Can I go to the bathroom? The familiar question echoes across the halls of every school. Many students take this request for granted, already walking out of class before their teacher can even get a chance to respond. This year, however, things are changing at RJ Reynolds.   

    One of the most talked about policy changes this year revolves around bathroom procedures. Principal Calvin Freeman found many issues with our previous system and has adapted the policy to best serve students.  

    “This year’s policies are so different,” sophomore Murtaza Raja said. “Last year, I would ask my teacher to go to the restroom and I would get a yellow or red pass and go. This year, I ask my teacher, go to the restroom, and then scan a QR code when I get back in.”

    This new “pass” is a google form connected to the administration. It keeps track of when students leave and return, allowing administration to address any attendance issues that may arise. 

    Freeman’s main desire for this year is to make “Reynolds the place everyone wants to be,” a slogan that is deeply ingrained in students’ minds. Freeman defines the new rules as more “explicit” with clearer expectations and believes that students will adapt to the new policy. This process helps increase instructional time and does not disrupt the flow of the class. 

    “The biggest difference is, again, going back to the establishment of expectations,” Freeman said. “If administration and staff are all speaking the same language around the expectations, students come to know and meet the expectations even more.” 

    Already, beneficial changes are occurring, with trends pointing to a decreased rate of unwarranted students in the halls thanks to teachers using the digital pass.

    “The new system hasn’t been a huge change for me,” guitar teacher Michael Chamis said. “I like having the ability to look at the data about the frequency and duration of student bathroom breaks if needed. Using the Google Form to keep up with students moving around the school helps me feel like I am contributing to our safety.”

    Like most new policies, however, there is a bit of a learning curve.

    “Most of the teachers here don’t really know how to use the tech, so it’s hard for the policies to actually work,” Raja said.

    Third-floor chemistry teacher Thomas Marino showcased his positive outlook on the new policy. He has adjusted to the new routine that allows him to have more interaction with his students by entering their names into the system. Marino has sensed a motivation of students to return to class quicker due to the digital time stamps.

    “When someone in class has to go to the bathroom, I don’t even think about it,” Marino said. “My legs are already moving towards the computer. It’s becoming a second nature thing.” 

    While many teachers like Marino and Chamis love the new changes, some students, like sophomore Sam Clary, are less positive. 

    “The QR code just gets annoying,” Clary said. 

    First students have to scan out. Then they have to fill out a google form. Once they get back, they have to scan in and complete a different google form. In the past, all that was required was to grab the pass and go. Even with just a few extra steps, many students, like Clary, still think it’s too much. 

    It’s clear that the new bathroom policy conjures mixed feelings from staff and students. While it adds steps to the routine and requires a little technological know-how, it’s a small change that is having a big impact: in the halls, in the classroom, and of course, in the bathrooms.