Fenwick Introduces Bathroom QR Code System — Why?

Last Friday my Mom texted me asking what my JUG was even talking about. I had no idea I had a JUG. I opened my email and found the dreaded JUG notification for “failing to follow procedures.” In the description, the notification mentioned that I didn’t sign out to use the bathroom. “Is this a joke?” my Mom asked, but unfortunately, the JUG was very, very real.

In every classroom the laminated QR Code shines brightly, waiting for students to scan it in order to use the restroom. The process consists of opening a linked Google Form, filling out your classroom, name, and signing out or signing back in. All in all, the process takes less than 30 seconds, and feels more like a chore than anything. Some Fenwick students, who will remain nameless, have begun to refer to it jokingly as the “potty pass.” But is it really necessary for high school students to scan and fill out a form to go to the
bathroom? The practice feels childish in practice, and some may go as far to call it Orwellian.

At first, I found myself opposed to the practice, it felt like an invasion of privacy. In my head I envisioned Mr. O’Keefe hunched over his desk, meticulously tracking the minutes of my day I spent using the bathroom. Yet, after talking to Mr. Holmberg (Assistant Dean of Students), I found the reason lies not in tracking our bathroom habits, but in safety.

Holmberg says: “[The goal is to] identify where students are throughout the day, in case of any type of emergency. We need to be able to locate a student at any time throughout the day.” This makes sense, if a situation were to occur, it would be beneficial for Fenwick, and emergency responders to know which kids are not with their classes. Although it may be an annoyance, it is a tool that’s key function lies in safety. Mr. Holmberg also mentioned that the QR Code system is being tested for this year, and if proven to be effective as a safety measure, it will become a permanent practice at Fenwick. The other concern with the QR Codes: classroom disruption. Instead of just walking out of the room, a student needs to take their iPad to the front and scan. This can distract from the lesson, but Holmberg says that this is not a major concern. “Scanning a QR code and completing a Google Form, especially once students are in the habit of doing so, takes no more than 30-45 seconds.” Again, the importance of this system lies in safety, and if class is minorly disrupted occasionally to prevent issues, it makes sense.

The decision to implement this program was decided by the Fenwick administration, and it can be seen at other schools in the area. York High School, for example, has recently instituted a similar protocol for signing out. Some speculated this came as a recommendation from Fenwick’s Cognia accreditation last year, but Holmberg made it clear this was not the case.

The practice also has certain disciplinary applications, if an event requiring disciplinary action is to occur, the QR Code allows for easier determination of who was out of class.

What’s the takeaway? Keep scanning the Potty Pass, it may save your life one day.