Administration rolls out digital hall pass system

The Wilson administration has started using online hall passes to replace standard paper passes.

CTE teacher Anthony Evans and PE/Health teacher Tia Clemmons are piloting the program. Instructional Coach David Thompson says the system will be fully implemented by early January.

According to Thompson, the system will provide a more organized way to monitor and manage students who frequently skip or leave class. Within the platform called Smart Pass, accessed through Clever, students must check out of their classroom and then check back in once they return. They have to include which room they are coming from, their destination, and how long it will take. 

In order to go to the bathroom or water fountain, students must fill out a pass for ‘locked rooms’ a teacher must provide a code—rather than a signature—to approve the pass. The pass remains active for an allotted time period, and students must return to class before the pass expires, ensuring they don’t extend their stay at the restroom or in the halls. Administrators will no longer need to stop students in the halls to check passes, because they have access to the electronic one.

Assistant Principal Steven Miller says that the electronic pass will allow administrators to “see and verify if a student is not where they’re supposed to be and log it immediately as an impact.” This will help the administration to collect quantitative data on students in the hallways and respond to it.

Currently, hall sweeps are being enforced before second and fourth period, and students are required to have either a paper or electronic hall pass to avoid consequences.

According to the recentering Wilson presentation, the current hall sweeps will result in a call home, and a second offense will result in loss of off school lunch and ability to attend school events.

Science Teacher Amanda Dezenzo says that in order for a student to leave the room, teachers need to “write a pass with their name, with the date, the time, where they’re going, and [their] signature.”

Clemmons, one of the few teachers to have implemented the Smart Pass system, appreciates its convenience and access to data. “It’s a nice way to collect data, and then hold students accountable.” Clemmons says that by giving them a time stamp, the app ensures that students return to class promptly so “they’re not losing valuable instruction time.” Additionally, Clemmons notes, “I like the fact that I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to write a pass.”

Freshman Lily Schwartzman has begun using the new electronic hall pass system in her health class. She doesn’t see any real benefits. “I get what they are trying to do because kids try to manipulate [teachers] when they go to the bathroom, but I also feel like it’s not going to fix anything,” Schwartzman said.

The administration and other teachers remain optimistic. Italian teacher Simona Spicianni thinks that “we have to be open minded and see how it works.” While she says that she is still “not 100 percent clear about how this is going to work, I can see that technology can be a friend of ours, can make life easier so I am open to that.” 

Initial concerns arise with Thompson, one of the main people involved in setting up this system. Thompson notes that there were immense privacy concerns given the involvement of student data. The collection of student information required the administration to obtain DCPS approval.  

Evans expressed additional uncertainty regarding issues with students being able to change the system. “I’m all about technology, but I am worried that somehow students will figure out how to manipulate the system in their favor.” •