Schools report inability to enforce dress codes

That’s right! Students at North Paulson High can now be found wandering the halls scantily-clad in bikinis, bathing suits, flip-flops, and shirtless!

The school principal, Mr. Knownot, explained that while in the past they had enforced a dress code, given the new state guidelines students’ dress was now a “personal choice”.

“Some chemistry teachers are concerned that lack of proper clothing could endanger the students and their lab partners. They seem to be worried that without the ability to enforce safety guidelines for their science classrooms they would no longer be able to use any lab equipment. However, we now recognize that individual choice overrides any safety concerns and so we will be adapting the curriculum to address issues around student liberties.” said Principal Knownot.

Seem far-fetched? As a teacher who was asked to enforce school dress codes and science safety in the classroom for over a decade, I am equally bewildered as to why a simple update to the dress code which would require masks in school would not be easy as an update on skirt length or strap width. Most would agree that coughing while COVID would likely cause more damage to the school community than “muscle shirts” or “spaghetti straps.” And yet we see photos of students massing in hallways without masks?

States don’t set dress codes, school districts set their own rules without guidelines from the governor, but just this week, the real superintendent of Pauling County Schools was quoted as saying that masks were a “personal choice” in a letter to parents. At the same time, the same school states that students can face disciplinary measures for violating the 2020–2021 dress code (which does not reference masks). No are masks required with the acknowledgement that “ in most cases it will not be possible to enforce social distancing in classrooms or on school buses unless it is a class or a bus with fewer students.” Perhaps unintentionally, the lack of a mask inclusion in the dress code will result in a lot more students not in classrooms or on buses and opting for virtual school. One can only hope.

Beware of the spaghetti strap, keep your distance! Students: safety goggles make you look funny, let your teacher know that your safety is your responsibility!

As a former educator, I would be happy to have been relieved from dress code enforcement as part of hall duty, but it would be much harder to understand how the safety of students and teachers has now become a student “personal choice”. As a former science teacher I mourn the lack of hands on labs in distance learning. As a parent, I would be stalking the school district website to see if the new dress code includes masks.

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