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The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

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Controversial hall pass application leads to fiery debate

Freshman Tejaswini Attada makes a pass on her Chromebook to use the bathroom in the World History classroom on Oct. 26, 2023. Students are required to do this in addition to asking the teacher’s permission. Photo used with permission from Ava Kruciak.

It’s the middle of math class. A student listens to his math teacher attentively, trying to understand exactly what integrals are. Just as he feels he’s onto something, nature calls. He whips out his Chromebook to create a pass, but it’s taking an unusually long time to load. After 10 minutes, it finally works… but the bell rings. The disgruntled student hurriedly packs up his stuff and runs across the school to his next class, his emergency forgotten in the confusion of the request.

This problem is unacceptable. 

By no fault of the student, he wasn’t allowed to take care of his personal hygiene. What has caused public schools to stoop to this level? I have one word for you: Pass.

Formerly known as e-Hall Pass, this online hall pass application has become a topic of debate in the school community. A blessing and a bane to teachers and students, Pass has become increasingly controversial since its launch in October 2021.

Pass evolved from the age-old idea of physical hall passes, except they are digital. 

If students want to depart from the classroom for any reason such as to visit the restroom or another class, they must log onto Pass and fill out data fields. They must also select which room or teacher they depart from, as well as their destination. 

In some circumstances, students are also required to give a reason for the pass, in 250 words or less. If a student wants to visit the library, for example, they must explain exactly why they want to go, which is absurd. Filling out a pass should not require this much execution.

What’s worse is that after the pass has been submitted, the teacher has to approve it, which initiates the stopwatch for up to 20 minutes. Sometimes, students take advantage of their study block to visit teachers for extra help. What if this takes more than 20 minutes? Should students be penalized for taking the initiative to further their education? 

Teachers must also enforce the “Five-Minute Rule,” where students cannot leave the class in the five minutes after it starts or the five minutes before it ends. Furthermore, students are allowed only two passes a day. 

In fact, in an anonymous survey conducted in October of 2023 among Ocean Lakes students, 100 students and teachers were asked to express their opinion on Pass. 63 percent of respondents had a negative opinion, 24 percent didn’t have an opinion, and a mere 13% had a positive opinion. People answered negatively due to three main reasons: the two-pass limit, the hassle of logging on and the passes not working due to poor Wi-Fi connection.

Though they are in the clear minority, it is crucial to note that 100 percent of full-time teachers polled had a positive opinion about Pass, due to its ability to monitor students, track the time they’re spending and locate students in case of an emergency.

As far as safety goes, it is of the utmost importance, yet students are justified in resenting the flawed and inconvenient functionality of the application.

Based on these facts, the platform should redesign their software to eliminate or minimize the hurdles students face and, at the same time, help teachers and administrators ensure safety. This aspect is essential, especially in these times, but the implementation of it doesn’t have to be so cumbersome and complicated. The district as a whole could also find better software and switch to that.

“We’re always looking for a better way to do things,” said assistant principal Leah Nelson. “If there is something better out there, we would encourage the division to use it.”

Until that day, students will continue to suffer the pointless restraints and rules placed upon them by Pass. No one knows how long this will last. Surprisingly, however, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. 

Timely action from students can inspire change. Who knows? 

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Maybe a student will invent an ingenious new solution, one that betters the system and replaces Pass for good. Rest assured, we will forever be thankful for that invention.

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About the Contributor
Mihika Sakharpe
Mihika Sakharpe, Design Editor
Mihika Sakharpe, a freshman in the Math and Science Academy, is a design editor and first-year journalist for The Current. She loves STEM, debate and languages (seven so far). She is a cricket fanatic and would eat sushi everyday if she could. Outside of school, she is a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol. Her dream is to pursue rocketry and make humans an interplanetary species. Her goal is to write a diverse array of award-winning articles.

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    Sheryl LussierNov 15, 2023 at 9:49 am

    What a wonderfully written article! You saw a problem and worked diligently to improve it through your journalistic talents. Thanks to you, I now know how to use the Pass system correctly and it has been a game changer! Thank you for taking action to improve the lives of students and teachers (and substitutes like me!) here at Ocean Lakes.
    Bravo Mahi Sakharpe!