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When sanitization matters most, school bathrooms fall short

The bathrooms are in pretty bad shape.

With COVID in the air, practicing good hygiene is more important now than ever. Making sure bathrooms are stocked with soap and paper towels is a no-brainer, and yet school restrooms are still lacking the basic necessities. More than that, they are excessively dirty.

Even before the pandemic, Glen A. Wilson High School (GAWHS) bathrooms were foul-smelling and in a shortage of soap and paper towels. The latter especially is an ongoing issue throughout the school—in fact, several of the boys’ restrooms are missing soap dispensers entirely. The girls’ bathrooms face similar problems with the paper toilet covers. Sadly, it seems that school bathrooms have a long list of flaws.

For one, students who use the bathrooms are undoubtedly familiar with dirty sinks, walls and toilets. The substandard toilet paper, toilet covers and soap do not help matters much. Freshman Christian Sentosa expresses his sentiments regarding them.

“The locks do not work, the drains are sticky and the stalls all smell gross,” he said. “The bathroom supplies are adequate at best. They do what they must but with the lowest quality possible. And someone took the soap dispenser out of one of the bathrooms, and now there is no soap in there at all.”

The toilet paper is very thin and tears very easily. The paper toilet covers are equally as delicate and missing from the stalls more often than not. In the boys’ restrooms, the soap is, too.

Aside from the problems regarding the bathroom stock, there is another concern—there are not many bathrooms available to students in the first place. When trying to avoid the crowds that usually gather in the restrooms between classes, junior Mia Gonzalez wishes she could use the “Maximum Capacity: 1” bathrooms. 

“I noticed how there are some bathrooms that are closed—the ‘Maximum Capacity’ ones,” she said. “There is one at the front of the school. I think it would be very helpful if those were open.”

There are many restrooms with “Maximum Capacity: 1” signs taped on their doors throughout the school, and as far as students have seen, they are not available for use. Having them closed lessens the number of bathrooms open on campus and causes overcrowding in the ones that are. Because of this, many find it difficult to maintain social distancing.

“The other bathrooms are a bit overcrowded and the lines are very long during break and lunch,” Gonzalez stated. “I just want to use the bathroom.”

Along with maintaining good hygiene, social distancing is very important to staying COVID-free. But, thanks to the inevitable congestion of students rushing for a stall in the few bathrooms available, social distancing efforts are nullified entirely.

More than that, many students wish free menstruation products were offered in the bathrooms. Gonzalez is one of them.

“I do think [menstruation products] should be offered in case of emergencies,” she said. “It would be very convenient to students.”

For those on their cycle, bathrooms offering menstruation products could be life-saving. Low-income students and those unlucky enough to forget to bring tampons or pads would find menstruation products in restrooms incredibly useful. The school aims to support its students and the provision of menstruation products is just one way to achieve its goal.

The school bathrooms are real fixer-uppers, and their shoddy conditions are no new problem. The custodial staff work hard to keep the school clean, but it is hard to cover it in its entirety—the campus is massive. Still, even though schools have returned to in-person learning, COVID remains a serious issue. Proper cleanliness is key to staying healthy in this day and age, and bathrooms should reflect that. Unfortunately for GAWHS students, they do not.

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