On Thursday, August 17th, I hosted the monthly Parent Community Partnership Meeting. On the agenda was the “one way” hallway policy that was implemented at the start of this year. After a positive and productive discussion with almost forty parents, it was suggested that I share with all parents and students the reasons for the change.
Over the course of last year, we had over 100 incidents in the hallways that involved a violation of school rules. The faculty, along with many parents whose children were involved in these infractions, grew increasingly concerned with inappropriate and dangerous student behavior in the hallways. Students were stopping and talking with friends they passed and they blocked the flow of students behind them, resulting in pushing and confrontations. In addition, when passing others, students sometimes participated in horseplay such as binder checking, necking, tripping, and other activities that violated the “hands off” policy. There were also moments when students, turning the corner, crashed into students coming from the other direction. The staff, parents, and students agreed – something needed to change.
The administration began to investigate alternative options to the current hallway rule of “stay to the right.” One Henderson middle school only allowed students to use their lockers before school, before and after lunch, and at the end of the day. A second school implemented one way hallways that kept students travelling in the same direction during passing periods. This allowed more students to pass through the hallways, decreased the opportunity to stop and speak to a friend, and also prevented students from disruptive behavior while passing another student. After a vote by the teachers, it was decided to implement one-way hallways in 6th and 7th grade, and an administrative decision was made to also implement one-way hallways in 8th grade.
Over the past few days, the students have adapted well to the change. As students become more and more comfortable with the opening of lockers, and finding the fastest route to class, we are also encouraging them to make decisions about their lockers. For example, if there is not enough time for a student to visit his or her locker between second and third period, then the student should make the decision to bypass the locker to be on-time for class. These are the things students are learning. At the same time, teachers need to be reasonable in their expectations. If there are very few students in the hallway, and a student is at his or her locker with less than a minute before the bell rings, should the teachers allow the student to go directly to class and bypass the one-way hallway? The goal is for students to be safe while moving through the hallway and to be on time for class. I have no doubt that students and teachers at Mannion Middle School are capable of finding a balance to meet these two needs.
We will continue to review the “one way” hallway policy to ensure it meets the needs of our campus. Never hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns and I hope to see many of you at our upcoming Open House on September 6th and our next Parent Community Partnership Meeting on September 21.
Todd C. Petersen