High School limits on bathroom breaks?

My mom is a frequent bathroom goer. So is my 14-year-old son. Of course, he would be humiliated if I announced that to the world. But it’s true.

So, when I heard about a high school limiting students’ bathroom breaks, it made me mad. If a kid has to pee, let him!

Evergreen Park High School in Chicago has made headlines for trying to curb excessive bathroom use by penalizing students for taking more than three trips to the bathroom per semester. (Regardless of other obligations, they have to stay after school to make up work)

Parents are up in arms! They say they’re concerned about the possible health risks. One mom is convinced her daughter is going to get a urinary tract infection if her bathroom usage is limited.

Evergreen’s Principal Bill Sanderson told NBC Chicago that the new policy is to prevent students from using restroom visits as an excuse to miss class, and ensure that students who may miss valuable class time during a bathroom break have a built-in provision to make up the work. He also said the five-minute passing periods between the school’s four 83-minute classes per day provide an ample opportunity for students “holding it” during class to use the bathroom.

My kids also have five minutes between class and the same complaint as students at this Chicago school  — that the bathrooms are crowded between classes and there’s a real risk of being late to class. They also have complained that some teachers won’t let them out of class to use the bathroom.

You’ve got to love the quote this parent told the TV news: “This principal — let him find out he’s got diarrhea, and he’s only told that  he can go to the bathroom three times a semester and we’ll see how this policy  holds up with him,” said parent Bea Bailey.

While there are slackers who definitely abuse bathroom visits, most kids do anything to avoid using the bathrooms at school. I once got a ticket for driving like a speed demon to the nearby drugstore after school so my son could dart into the bathroom. Even worse, my kids say that some of the high school bathrooms don’t have soap — SO GROSS!

Anyway, these Chicago parents think the principal should trust the teacher to know when a student genuinely needs to go or when they use a bathroom visit as an excuse to get out of class.

Sure, some slackers will retreat to the bathroom. Even if us “old people” have forgotten what high school is like, we’re not that out of it. In every TV show or movie about the high school years, the bathroom is where the “mean girl” and “bad boy” stuff goes down. I doubt that will ever change.

But penalizing kids for bathroom use? I think high schools have much more to worry about that their students’ peeing too often.

Readers, do you think this is the most ridiculous policy you’ve ever heard of or do you think it has validity?


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  1. Debra October 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I agree w/ Bea Bailey, let that principal have an issue one day w/ a bad virus & —- in his pants. That will let him see a different perspective. When nature calls, we go. I am a frequent user, that is my make-up, small bladder, who knows? All I know is when u feel it, u must react. Tyhe teachers can figure out the kids soon enough who take advantage.

    1. Sharon Crowley November 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      I agree with you ever since my daughter was in middle school(she is in 9th grade now in high school) she said the kids are sometimes afraid to go to the restroom the teachers let them go but act mad and sometimes say no they can’ t go. She just got a UTI she is 14 , she does not drink enough water and waits until she gets home to use the bathroom. I think there needs to be a better way in school to let them feel comfortable using the bathroom and drinking water more during the day.

  2. Alex June 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I teach 800 kids a week in an elementary school in China. The kids have 10 minutes in between each 40 minute class period to use the restroom, do homework, or play; most choose to play. When they ask (usually in groups of two) to use the restroom, I only let one kid at a time go. Usually that curbs their requests to use the restroom, as they can no longer use their “bathroom break” as play time. However, if a lot of kids ask to go in the same class period, continually interrupting class, I will tell them that no one else can leave the classroom until the end of class (barring emergencies, and you can usually tell when a kid really needs to go).

    Sometimes I feel like a prison warden, but after way too many cases of the kids treating their “bathroom break” as play time and disappearing for 10 minutes at a time, or sneaking around to the window to try to convince their friend to ask to go to the restroom, I had enough. Students need to learn to go to the restroom in between classes—they have 10 minutes!


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