OPINION: Computer Hall Passes are Overcomplicated


Students have to stop what they’re doing and pull up a long form on their computer before using the restroom.


The Student Hall Pass is too repetitive and requires more than enough verification. When a student needs to use the bathroom, they hope to miss as little instruction time as possible. So it can be frustrating to log in and then fill out the 7-question hall pass during a class lesson. If that class does not require the use of a laptop, this can take up to five minutes, which is an absurd amount of time to get verification if one wants to use the restroom.
The Hall Pass starts by asking for your student ID number. This question is not logical because the google form is set to record respondents’ emails when they submit the form. Every student’s FCPS email shows their student ID number, so this question is unnecessary.
Another question that doesn’t make sense is the question that asks for your counselor’s name.
“If they remember that your last is from this letter to that letter, then they should automatically know who your counselor is, “said 7th grader Karan S. Karan also wonders why the administration needs your counselor just to go to the bathroom. “It’s not very efficient,” he pointed out.
The last question on the form asks for the reason why you left class. The options are bathroom, water filling station, or other. These options don’t acknowledge the many reasons students may need to leave the room. Just a few of the “other” reasons students might need to leave: To go to their locker, to pick something up from the office, to deliver a substitute teacher’s attendance sheet, to go find an item left in their prior class, to visit their counselor. The list could go on. Deciding how to best fill in the form requires students and teachers to take more time on the task.
Finally, one result of this is to cut corners. Teachers don’t always check the pass or even always ask students to fill it out. This calls into question the accuracy of the information provided.

So when and why did the Hall Pass begin to be online? Assistant principal Aidan Vigil has some answers.
“The hall pass became electronic as we returned students to in-person instruction last school year,” said Mr.Vigil. “LMS adopted the electronic hall pass to help reduce additional close contacts between teachers and students during the school day when FCPS was still under the mandate of six feet of social distancing at all times to the greatest extent possible.”
Besides reducing close contact between students and teachers, an online hall pass has other benefits, according to Vigil.
“Student hall passes are important as they help Longfellow faculty know where students are,” said Mr. Vigil.
As for why the administration asks for your student ID, this was initially a question for people who had to fill out the hall pass on a peer’s computer.
An electronic hall pass also makes collecting data for administrators easier.
“We have data that shows us during the first quarter, we’ve had approximately 19,000 students use the electronic hall pass. The data is able to be further analyzed, which tells us about 70 students per class period use the electronic hall pass,” stated Mr. Vigil.
It’s easy to pin the blame of a long and tedious hall pass on the administration. But frankly, administrators have already made adjustments to the hall pass for the better of students.
“Initially, the hall pass was only available through QR codes. Our building has cell phone reception issues which led to us adding the electronic hall pass to a link on LMS Student Central,” said Mr.Vigil.
While collecting data can be useful, Longfellow’s main goal is teaching students. When students need to stop and fill out a hall pass on their computer, they take more time and attention away from the lesson than needed. This is especially true if the computers are not being utilized during class, like in PE, music, or a science lab.
Instead of an electronic hall pass, why can’t Longfellow go back to a hall pass in the student’s planner? Students could just ask their teacher if they wanted to use the bathroom or if they wanted to fill up their water bottle. There would be no need to fill out a seven-question google form that still needs to be verified by a teacher before you click the submit button.