BRIGHTON - The cardboard pass is a thing of the past for students at a Brighton high school. When they are excused to use the restroom they are being asked to wear a fluorescent safety vest.
It's a new policy this school year. Eagle Ridge Academy principal Ben Ploeger said that in the past teachers used things like laminated cards on lanyards or wooden passes.
He says the vests serve two goals. According to Ploeger, the bright vests indicate a student has permission to be out of class. He says they also improve sanitary conditions.
One parent, however, disagrees and says the vests pose a health hazard.
"They go and they use the restroom. They come back to the classroom and they hang the vest up and then the next child who wants to use the restroom picks up the vest and goes to the restroom and does their business," said Dave Brody, who has two daughters who attend the charter high school. "I don't think we all appreciate how much splash back occurs in the restroom. You know, basic urine and feces isn't so much of a problem. The real problem starts to occur when blood gets mixed in to that that mixture. And as soon as that happens, you have a serious problem in terms of being able to easily convey diseases from one child to another."
"This isn't going to be the situation where you're going to see a big blood splotch on the vest," Brody continued. "It's going to be microscopic. We all know that germs, viruses, bacteria are microscopic. Kids can't see them."
Ploeger, however, defends his decision to institute the vest policy. He believes it's an improvement from traditional hall passes.
"Every single school that I'm aware of uses some sort of pass when a student is out of a classroom," Pleuger said. "We feel this is a vast improvement. Passes that were in use before are the same type of passes that are commonly used in any school. So, you know, when you're looking at the possible presence of bacteria - anytime you're in any sort of public place - that's [bacteria] present. Our goal is to keep students safe and to minimize exposure to anything that could be harmful."
The school has around 420 students and each classroom has a vest.
"On the back of the hall pass, which is the vest, the teacher's name is written," Ploeger said. "So it's easily identifiable, which class a student is assigned to."
One color is used for the first floor. Another color is used for the second floor.
Brody suggests having students simply sign in and out to use the bathroom. But Ploeger says that will not allow school staff to know who is allowed in the halls and who is not.
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