Dawning the new school year post distance learning you can see many differences while walking through the halls. The most noticeable change being the masks on every individual’s face, with the second surprising thing you may notice are students wearing hats and hoodies. Along with the new district wide mask policy, there have also been some significant changes in the dress code policy. Most students are excited and have already been taking advantage of the new policy that permits wearing both hats and hoodies. The rest of the changes revolve more so around female students and individuality.
The old dress policy was very one sided and really targeted female students in an unfair, sexist way. Kelly Hart, Assistant Principal, says, “How a girl dresses doesn’t define who they are, and policing that is not what we’re here to do,” which is completely true. Clothing does not define who you are, though it is an outlet to express your individuality. The old dress policy was very controlling over specifically female students’ clothing requirements. You know it used to be, ‘ey you have to wear a skirt this length,’ or ‘you have to wear shorts this length,’ it was interpreted based on the perception of the individual looking at someone’s clothes,” said Bruce Schmidt, Sam Barlow’s Principal. Over this summer the district made a decision to no longer put a restriction on what female students can and cannot wear, within reason of course.
Another modification to the dress policy is the hat and hoodie code. Now any student, at any time, in any part of the school is permitted to wear a hat or hoodie. Though this seems like a positive thing to many of the students, it does put a little bit of stress on staff. Identifying people who do not belong in the building will now become harder and teachers in classrooms will not be able to tell if a student is paying attention with their hood up as they could be wearing headphones. Principal Schmidt says his biggest struggle will be adjusting to hats and hoodies. He mentions, “for me it’s about being able to see people on campus and recognize that typically anybody walking into the building was wearing a hat or a hoodie. It’s like, ‘do you belong here?’ and now I don’t have that option.” That being said there are some upsides for staff as well.
The old dress policy made the teachers an enemy, so to speak. Staff had to be the bad guys and tell students that they needed to change or take something off. It was a sort of power struggle. So, while there is a bit of a downside to the new policy some teachers are happy with the change. “I think for some they are happy with it, because again the power struggle. Having to tell kids constantly to take off their hats or they are going to be in trouble. You’re focusing on that instead of the learning that’s happening in the classroom,” Mrs. Hart mentions in regards to the staff’s opinion on the change.
It may take some getting used to but it does seem to be beneficial to many students. Our district administrators are trying to do everything they can to make sure that students feel safe and comfortable coming to school and being able to not feel judged over what they wear. Of course the dress code policy still applies to clothing with hate speech, or violence, discriminatory messages, drugs and alcohol, nudity, acts of violence, acts of hate, and sexual innuendos. Feel free to express yourself through your clothing, within reason. Remember to wear your mask over your mouth and nose. Stay safe Barlow!