Unnecessary Protocol: paper pass process inconveniences students and staff

After an extended hiatus from in-person classes due to COVID-19, there have been several new procedures and schedule revisions put into action. Some of which have proven to be an advantage to the student body, but others have done the exact opposite.

Implementing more academic intervention time has become a top priority for administration this school year, which provides lots of opportunities for students to complete their work during the day. Not only is this academic support built into regular class periods, but students are also encouraged to take advantage of their TIPS class.

Not all students have seen the benefits of this additional work time and most privileges are specific to upperclassmen. Although this time is meant to be independently structured for the students, all building staff is now required to collect a signed paper hall pass or sealed TIPS 2 invitation in order to let students leave their classrooms or visit another teacher.

As I have observed this new system for an entire quarter, it has been made abundantly clear to me that the paper passes are a large inconvenience to students. However, principal Scott Roberts said these paper passes are meant to challenge students to practice time management skills.

“When we initially introduced academic support time last spring, it was kind of a free for all,” Roberts said. “The time is meant to be spent on homework and student-teacher interaction, so after reviewing our options, we decided that paper passes would be the most simple solution.”

The vast majority of our current student body didn’t get to experience Timber Time pre-COVID, so adjusting to the new pass system might not seem so difficult. However, senior Kennadie Campbell said this transition to using paper passes has jeopardized the freedom for older students.

“I remember when we had Timber Time every day and I barely ever had homework,” Campbell said. “Now with the new schedule, it’s much harder to do things like meet with teachers or retake tests because you have to get a pass so far in advance, and even then, some teachers won’t let you leave. It’s honestly just a hassle to go through that’s adding unnecessary stress and complication to my senior year.”

Meeting independently with teachers can make the biggest difference when it comes to success in a class. However, freshman Alyson Massey said the passes impede her ability to get the attention she needs.

“Already high school is so much different than anything I’m used to,” Massey said. “If I have an absence and want to go visit a teacher, I have to get a pass right away or it will be days before I have a chance to see them.”

The shift to a block schedule increases the number of things that students can accomplish in one class period, but it is almost more difficult to catch up when there isn’t an opportunity to see your teachers every day.

“We are trying our best to teach students executive functioning skills … you kind of have to plan ahead,” Roberts said. “Also, from a teacher’s standpoint, imagine having a full TIPS class combined with students looking for additional help in your classroom all at once. It doesn’t really work efficiently which is another big reason why we started requiring the signed passes.”

These passes equally impact the staff members as well as the students, but each teacher has been approaching the problem differently. Some teachers are extremely diligent when writing or accepting passes from students, while others don’t keep track of who is coming or going from their classroom.

“It’s impossible to give every student undivided attention, but it seems to me that the students who need the most help are the ones who probably won’t ask for a pass,” Campbell said.

At this point, it would be unrealistic to expect a change in the pass protocol, but as a student body, I feel that we should aim toward building trust with our administrators in hopes of gaining more independence for future years.

“I can understand from a student perspective how it might be a little bit of a pain, but I think that they’re finally starting to get used to it and plan their schedules around it a little better,” Roberts said. “As long as you’re where you’re supposed to be throughout the day, we should have no issues. It’s unfortunate that we had to implement these rules, but so far it’s been very effective.”