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  • Writer's pictureSarah Samra

Bathroom closures, students' frustrations, and calls for action

By Sarah Samra, Clarion staff reporter

The closure of several restrooms at John F. Kennedy High School has sparked 

frustration among students in recent months. The school administration made the decision to prioritize the safety and well-being of the students. The closure was in response to concerning behavior that had been consistently observed in both the girls' and boys’ restrooms near the F wing.

The school administration has expressed their concerns regarding the negative impact of such behavior, which has resulted in a high number of students arriving late to class or being absent altogether. It was also noticed that some students were using the bathroom as an excuse to skip class entirely. The school staff and teachers were genuinely worried about the safety and well-being of the students.

This concern has surfaced due to multiple incidents of inappropriate activities taking place in the restroom area. These activities have ranged from casual gatherings resembling picnics, with individuals playing cards and relaxing on the restroom floor, to more concerning behaviors like drug use, vaping, and drinking alcohol. Furthermore, there have been instances of individuals hosting parties in the restroom rather than using it for its intended purpose. The hall mentors have noticed students frequently entering and exiting the restroom within short intervals, appearing intoxicated or under the influence, and consuming food that could potentially pose health hazards.

Toni Reece, and our other school custodians, work tirelessly to ensure that all restrooms on campus are kept clean for our students. Unfortunately, she has noticed a troubling issue an excess of food left scattered across the bathroom floors. This presents a significant safety hazard, as anyone could potentially slip and suffer serious injuries. Reece stresses that this problem goes beyond safety it also impacts the overall cleanliness and health of the environment. Restrooms should strictly be used for their intended purpose, and not as a location for consuming food. Sadly, some students ignore school consolidators' efforts by bringing food into the restrooms, resulting in messy and unhygienic situations. These actions not only compromise cleanliness but also create an unpleasant atmosphere for everyone. Reece suggests implementing educational campaigns to raise awareness among students about restroom cleanliness. Clear signage should be placed to remind students not to bring food inside. School staff, especially custodians, should actively monitor and clean restrooms to discourage improper behavior. Students should report any instances of food in restrooms for prompt action. This will ensure a cleaner and safer environment for all.

Assistant Principal Rosalio Medrano said the importance of students understanding the consequences of their actions and respecting the school administration's rules in response to the closure of certain bathrooms on campus. He acknowledged that this situation has caused inconvenience for the entire student body, resulting in attendance issues as students struggle to find available restrooms and make it to class on time. This is especially unfair to students who simply need to use the restroom and arrive promptly for their lessons.

 Medrano said that by refraining from disruptive behavior and showing respect, students can play a part in alleviating this issue and ensuring that all restrooms remain open for their convenience. He mentioned that if students see something concerning in the bathrooms, they should report it immediately.  He also acknowledged that the school's hall mentors are doing their best to prevent such incidents, but they cannot force students to behave appropriately. However, he mentioned that the school can provide resources to help students as long as they are willing to utilize them. 

Currently, there is a shortage of available bathrooms in the F wing, with only two restrooms open - one for girls and one for boys. This has led to long lines and wait times for students, resulting in potential lateness or even missed classes, marking innocent students absent due to limited resources. This unfair marking affects their academic performance and puts them at a disadvantage.

Junior student Janise Jafari said that certain activities involving long wait times are likely to continue, but she finds it unfair that students have to endure lengthy times just to use the restroom. She argues that this situation is even more unjust when students who merely want to utilize the restroom end up being late or absent as a result. Jafari has personally experienced this frustrating scenario where she had to wait in lengthy lines, resulting in her being marked tardy or absent by her teacher. Despite her attempts to address the issue with her teacher, she found that her concerns were not heard, and her teacher simply dismissed her as making excuses, similar to others. Jafari firmly believes that if she is facing this problem, it is highly likely that other students are also facing it, making the situation even more unfair. Jafari proposes implementing a system in schools where students can sign up for restroom breaks or request a pass from their teacher to use the restroom. This would help ensure that students have a designated time to use the restroom without having to wait in long lines. Additionally, she suggests that schools should increase the number of restrooms available to students to alleviate overcrowding and reduce the chances of students being late or absent due to restroom breaks. Jafari also believes that teachers should be more understanding and accommodating when students express their need to use the restroom, rather than assuming they are making excuses. By addressing this issue, Jafari said the importance of fairness and equal access to restrooms for all students, creating a healthier and more comfortable learning environment.

The closure of school bathrooms has sparked significant concern and fear among students, leading to invasion and discomfort within the student body. Iris Acosta, the school nurse, understands and empathizes with the frustration felt by students, acknowledging that some feel invaded and scared by these incidents. She expressed sadness over the necessity of closing the restrooms on campus, but she said it was done solely for the well-being of the students. Acosta also mentioned some parents have expressed concerns regarding the safety of their children at school.

In the C-wing, a message from ASB asks students to consider their part in keeping bathrooms clean and orderly.

Despite the challenging circumstances, the school administration remains optimistic that students will soon receive the necessary support. They are actively working towards finding a resolution to the bathroom safety issues and are encouraging students to come forward and seek assistance if they feel unsafe. The school is fully committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all students.

Estela Brown, Kennedy Office Technician, expresses her dissatisfaction with the closure of bathrooms during classes. However, she believes that this measure helps students spend less time in the restroom and more time in class. She mentions that bathrooms are open during passing periods near the counseling office, the F wing, and the B wing. 

Junior Ayla Vang strongly advocates for keeping the school bathrooms open during passing periods and class time. She acknowledges the concerns of the staff but believes they should empathize with students who genuinely need to use the restroom during those times. Vang argues that walking around campus in search of an available restroom is inconvenient and time-consuming.  Vang raises concerns about the negative impact of holding in the need to use the restroom on students' physical health. She emphasizes the importance of accommodating students' needs and creating a more comfortable environment for everyone.

Mark Wright, a counseling office Technician staff, has noticed that during lunchtime or class, numerous students tend to use the counseling office bathroom, which causes inconvenience for the staff and other individuals in need of restroom facilities. Wright hopes for a swift resolution to this problem by reopening all the bathrooms, as it would not only alleviate this issue but also ensure that students receive the necessary support they require. Furthermore, he suggests the recruitment of more female hall monitors, as their presence could potentially help address the current bathroom problem on campus.

Adelyn Woo, a sophomore at our school, recently expressed her frustration with the consistently long lines she encounters when trying to use the restroom. This has become such a significant issue for her that her only alternative is to go to the counseling office to use the restroom. While Woo acknowledges that the school staff is making an effort to address the problem, she hopes to see changes happening soon, not just for herself but for other students as well.

Diva Miller, a junior, strongly believes that the school bathrooms should be open for students' use throughout the day. She asserts that students require access to bathrooms for various activities such as after-school support and changing into game gear. Additionally, students involved in extracurricular activities like sports or clubs also need to utilize the bathrooms during their time on campus. Miller hopes that the necessary support will be provided promptly to address this issue.

Josh Brown, a chemistry teacher at Luther Burbank High School, admits that they have faced similar challenges with bathroom closures. Luther Burbank High School conducted a survey to address these problems and invited therapists and counselors to speak with students about drug, vaping, and drinking issues.  Brown suggests that Kennedy should consider similar initiatives to help reopen the bathrooms. The school provides a plethora of resources, but ultimately, it’s up to the students to fix the root cause of the issue. He hopes that they find the help they need soon.

Ben Teweles, a Kennedy art teacher, said the importance of addressing bathroom safety for all students is necessary for a safer environment. He said the school administration should acknowledge student concerns and work together to find a solution that prioritizes their well-being and convenience. By promoting open communication, empathy, and cooperation, the school can create a healthier and more pleasant educational environment. In a message to students and staff, Teweles expressed confidence in their ability to seek and receive the necessary support, reminding them to stay positive, brave, ambitious, resilient, and strong. 

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