By: Kate Smith, September 27, 2022
Throughout the past several years, a students’ ability to leave classrooms has changed.
Before COVID-19, Salisbury used to offer paper passes, which the teacher would sign. From there, the student would sign out before they left the classroom. The pass was then shown to a staff member on hall duty for approval.
This year, students use Smartpass for digital access to make passes, allowing them to leave the classroom. Smartpass first came about in Salisbury during the 2020-21 school year after students returned to in-person schooling for the first time since the emergency COVID-19 shutdown in March of 2020.
When Smartpass first made its appearance at Salisbury, there was an 8-minute time limit on passes, and an unlimited usage as to how many times a school day a student could create a pass. With the start of the 2022-23 school year, Smartpass restrictions have been further enforced. With the new-and-improved version of Smartpass, a student can no longer exceed 6 minutes outside of the classroom unless given permission, and students can only use up to 5 Smartpasses a day.
Salisbury High School’s assistant principal, Ryan Yurchick, was asked why Salisbury chose Smartpass and how the software has better shaped Salisbury as a school. Mr. Yurchick shared that Salisbury began using Smartpass as a way to monitor the number of students roaming the school at a time for COVID-19 restriction purposes, and shared that many other local schools were “using similar programs such as EHallPass and others, for a number of years prior to 2020.”
Because there’s been an elevated number of cell phone usage violations, students are no longer permitted to make passes with their cellular devices. Students must use the iPad kiosks, which were recently added to classrooms and the cafeteria, to sign-in and out digitally
Mr. Yurchick argued the purpose was to allow classrooms to have a similar sign-in/sign-out sheet to what was used in the past for paper passes. Mr. Yurchick believes the biggest mistake Salisbury has made was telling students to download Smartpass on their phones and that the school “should have been using Smartpass on computers and not on personal mobile devices.”
Mr. Yurchick hopes the Smartpass changes will “increase classroom engagement by limiting the amount of time people spend out of the classroom.”
Class of 2022 Salisbury High School alumni, Anna Smith, argued that the changes to Smartpass are reasonable but feels as though students are being babied regarding how much security is applied to the system. Anna was still a student at Salisbury when Smartpass first came into the lives of Salisbury learners.
Ms. Dos Santos, a Spanish and biology teacher, believes students will adjust to the Smartpass changes eventually and will get over their frustration. Ms. Dos said, “Once you guys have that time to adjust, I don’t think it will be that big of a deal.”
Dos argued how teachers never get a chance to use the bathroom whenever they please–she is okay with the time to use the restroom being shortened so it is fair for everyone.
Dr. Butynskyi, a new addition to Salisbury High School who is temporarily covering for English teacher, Mrs. Neuman, argued he never had experience with Smartpass before coming to Salisbury, and that he wasn’t aware of the policies before they changed. Dr. B doesn’t think there’s a problem with having a limited number of passes. In shorter terms, Dr. B doesn’t believe these changes were a “move in the wrong direction.”
Smartpass has affected the audience of both students and teachers in their own ways. Teachers haven’t appeared to acknowledge the Smartpass changes much and take little to no offense, though on the other hand, students have shown to be frustrated with all of the modifications being made to SHS in the past month or so of being back to school. Salisbury High School’s administrators have been evaluating Smartpass day-by-day to figure out what can be done differently. Other alternatives are being considered to settle an agreement between everyone within the Salisbury community. Students should be advised that more changes will be happening throughout the course of the school year to finalize a plan that everyone agrees with.