QUESTION: Has the Alamance-Burlington school system removed mirrors from student bathrooms at all schools to stop students from taking multiple bathroom breaks to get out of class and making videos of themselves (i.e., “selfies”) while in the bathroom?
ANSWER: ABSS officials confirmed for The Alamance News this week that, while the administration at Southern Middle School have removed mirrors from student bathrooms, that will not be done at all ABSS schools.
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Families of students at Southern Middle School were notified last week via emails and robocalls that the mirrors had been removed from student bathrooms after the school administration had learned students were making videos to post on the TikTok social media site during class time.
“Since removing the mirrors, we have seen a drastic decrease in bathroom visits from students asking to be excused just to make videos,” the message from ABSS stated. “We strive to limit distractions so students can focus on learning. We have also started using Smart Pass, a digital hall pass system integrated with our learning software. The pass allows students to check in and out when leaving class, so we know where students are at all times for safety and accountability. Though this is an adjustment, we believe these changes will foster a better learning environment by minimizing disruptions.”
School officials told the newspaper this week that, on average, students visit the restroom three to four times per day, but as the latest “TikTok craze” spread, some had been asking to visit the restroom far more frequently and staying there for five minutes or more each time.
Asked why students are allowed to have their cell phones with them during class – and turned on – school officials said, “Parents want their students to have phones for safety reasons. Some teachers actually allow them to use a phone for different assignments if they have one and want to use it.”
ABSS public information officer Les Atkins said in a brief interview Monday night that this decision had been made at one school, Southern Middle, and said mirrors have not and would not be removed from student restrooms at all ABSS schools. “It was becoming enough of a problem [at Southern Middle] that something had to be done,” he told an Alamance News reporter. Atkins said that maintenance crews were already on site at Southern Middle School, completing a separate work order, when school administrators asked to have the mirrors removed.
“This move to remove mirrors aims to balance educational focus in class with parents’ desire for their children to have phones for peace of mind,” Atkins said in a subsequent statement he provided to the newspaper. “Students who need to adjust contacts, check for food in braces, etc. are permitted to use the bathroom in the cafeteria (with permission), which has a mirror, or can ask to go to the nurse’s office.”
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