Obstacle or Opportunity

As Reported by:  Harley Burger

In light of recent tragedies, Texas schools have become increasingly proactive in safety measures. One such safety measure prohibits NEISD High Schools from being “Open Campuses,” meaning that students are barred from leaving school grounds during their lunch periods. Although there are justifiable concerns surrounding a shift to an “Open Campus,” many students and teachers alike believe that the transition is possible.

Currently, no NEISD High Schools operate with an “Open Campus” policy. However, San Antonio’s John Jay High School offers an opportunity for Juniors and Seniors to participate in “Off-Campus Lunch”. This allows upperclassmen to leave campus during their lunch period. To be eligible, John Jay High School requires its students and their legal guardians to sign a waiver removing the school from accountability for any off-campus accidents that occur during the student’s lunch period. Participating students must also uphold specific academic, attendance, and disciplinary expectations to be approved for the Off-Campus Lunch Program. John Jay High School’s strict regulation of this program has allowed students to safely enjoy the privilege of Off-Campus Lunch.

After consulting both Madison High School staff members and students, it appears nearly the entire community is in favor of implementing an “Open Campus Policy” for an “Off-Campus Lunch” program. One teacher commented, “As educators, it is our job to prepare our students for real life. In the real world, employees are allowed to leave their offices for lunch, provided they complete their responsibilities. How is it any different with students?” Upperclassman Olivia Sereno commented, “I would love the privilege of having Off-Campus Lunch. If a student meets certain attendance and academic expectations, and they have displayed their responsibility throughout their educational journey, they should be given the freedom to safely leave campus for lunch.” 

Although safety is a primary concern held with “Off-Campus” policies, many schools have navigated this difficult topic through strict expectations and liability waivers. Guidelines such as only allowing students with a certain GPA and attendance record to leave campus could help ensure that students carry out the “Madison Way” whilst off-campus. Another safety guideline was suggested by Michelle Gonzalez, a Junior at Madison High School: “I think Off-Campus lunch should be a privilege for specifically Upperclassmen. [We] have more driving and life experience that can aid us in making responsible, healthy decisions.” All in all, so many guidelines can be included in an “Open-Campus” Policy to ensure the safety of students, administration, and faculty is protected.

It seems the student body of Madison High School, as well as some of the school’s faculty, believe that an Open-Campus Policy would benefit the Madison Community as a whole. An Open-Campus Policy would provide members of JMHS an opportunity to display their responsibility and maturity.



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