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The Round Table

The student news site of Stamford High School

The Round Table

The student news site of Stamford High School

The Round Table


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The Issue of Locked Bathrooms Must Be Addressed

Molly Fitzgerald
Senior Caroline Fay stands distraught at encountering yet another locked bathroom.

The issue of locked bathrooms is one that is all too familiar to the students of Stamford High. For years now, students have often complained about wandering the SHS halls in search of a bathroom only to find that the nearest unlocked one is multiple floors away. The phenomenon of locked bathrooms has led to students missing essential class time, as typical 2-minute bathroom breaks often turn into 10-minute-long scavenger hunts spanning multiple buildings. The issue of avoiding using school bathrooms was further highlighted in correspondent Isabella Teasdale’s 2023 article about the reasons behind bathroom use anxiety in school. News Editor Esther Jean-Charles also analyzed the issue of locked bathrooms in her 2022 article.

The SHS administration has stated that this action is a response to students who use these places not for relieving themselves, but for activities such as vaping and skipping class. With limited resources at their disposal, the administration has tried to make the best of the situation by creating the now-infamous “SHS Bathrooms” spreadsheet that, in theory, notes which bathrooms are locked and which are open at all times.

But the reality is, as Round Table correspondent Molly Fitzgerald pointed out in her recent article on the topic of locked bathrooms, the spreadsheet is not always up-to-date, often leading to students wasting time trying to decode the document, finding a supposedly unlocked lavatory, then realizing the bathroom is actually locked and heading back out to continue the hunt for an open bathroom. Additionally, even if the spreadsheet were updated and correct 100% of the time, the fact of the matter is that more than 50% of SHS bathrooms are still locked at all times.

Even if the spreadsheet were regularly updated, it’s simply not practical. If you desperately need to use the bathroom in the middle of class, your first instinct is to go to the bathroom on the floor you’re on, not to check a spreadsheet and possibly go to a different building just to find the nearest unlocked one.

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Fitzgerald’s article took an in-depth look at the situation, even reaching out to Shawn Reed and Veronica Negrelli from Connecticut’s Building Department on the legality of locked bathrooms. As Fitzgerald put it, “Stamford High has 2,145 enrolled students and 27 bathrooms across all three buildings. In order for the school to be in accordance with Connecticut building codes, we would need at least 43 student bathrooms.”  While adding additional bathrooms is perhaps not financially feasible at this point, the district can at least take action to ensure students have access to the bathrooms that already exist.

The Round Table Editorial Staff sees the issue of locked bathrooms as a serious one that has plagued the SHS community for far too long. We also recognize this phenomenon to be a symptom of a much greater problem: a lack of security guards. 

With only 10 security guards, there is no way for each of the school’s nine floors and the cafeteria and the front and back exits of the school to be monitored at all times. This means that certain floors’ bathrooms will have to be locked, as there are simply not enough security guards to keep an eye on them.

It’s also important to remember that security guards are people too: they get sick, they take personal days, and it’s not every day that all 10 security guards are all present. We estimate that, in order to account for sick days, the entrances of the school that require full-time surveillance, and the cafeteria’s need for one or more supervisors during lunch, Stamford High would need somewhere in the vicinity of 20 or more security guards to properly function.

With the right number of security guards, Stamford High bathrooms could be properly monitored and it would not be necessary to lock so many of them. While much of the community is focused on teaching schedules and the new attendance policy, we see locked bathrooms as one of the most urgent issues students face today—you’d be hard-pressed to find a student who hasn’t had a bothersome interaction with an inaccessible lavatory. As the voice of the student community, we urge the Stamford Board of Finance, Board of Education, and Superintendent Lucero to take some initiative to solve this problem and fulfill their responsibility to their students and to the law.

This draft was written by Leo Field with edits provided by Gabby Gibek. It was approved by more than 70% of the Round Table Editorial Staff.

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    DianeJan 11, 2024 at 9:37 am

    Give teachers keys to the bathrooms nearest their classrooms. If one of the students needs to use it , they get the key and must return it when finished. That also solves the problem of how long the student is in the bathroom.