Parents of students at a suburban Chicago high school are concerned about the possible health risks presented by a new policy penalizing students for taking more than three trips to the bathroom per semester.
An optional policy at Evergreen Park High School enforced by some teachers limits students to three bathroom visits during class per semester, after which class time must be made up after school, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. For students who have after-school obligations that would interfere with make-up class time, "holding it" may be their only option.
EPHS Principal Bill Sanderson told NBC Chicago that the policy is to prevent students from using restroom visits as an excuse to miss class, and ensure that students who may miss valuable class time during a bathroom break have a built-in provision to make up the work.
But some parents, including those whose children may have a history of urinary tract infections or other health problems that can increase their need for frequent bathroom trips, are concerned the firm policy doesn't provide enough discretionary flexibility.
One mother, Cathi Diamond, told the Sun-Times she's worried about how this policy could affect her daughter's health.
“There’s no trust of the parents. There’s no trust between teachers and students. There’s no trust the teacher will know when a student genuinely needs to go or when they use the washroom as an excuse to get out of class,” Diamond said. She told the Sun-Times that she acknowledges that there may be some students who use trips to the bathroom to "try to get out of class, but that’s a small group of kids.”
Sanderson told the Associated Press that the five-minute passing periods between the school's four 83-minute classes per day provide an ample opportunity for students "holding it" during class to use the bathroom.
But 15-year-old Dominique Gigliello told the Sun-Times that with a school full of students trying to use the same bathrooms during such a short interval, there's not enough time and students risk being late to class.
Evergreen Park urologist Dr. David Zumerchik told the Sun-Times that waiting to use the bathroom shouldn't cause health problems, but that it's "tough to have a kid hold it if there’s an underlying urinary problem.”
Zumerchik called the policy "silly," and advised students to take the make-up time if they feel the need to use the bathroom more than their three allotted trips.
“You shouldn’t be afraid to go to the bathroom,” he told the Sun-Times.