Restricted: bathrooms closed

Why are the bathrooms closed? Who is to blame?


Brooke Kraizer

Bathroom door covered with restricted sign.

Brooke Kraizer, Staff Writer

Katie Hensley, sophomore at Parkway Central, experiences frustration when having to go to different restrooms because some bathrooms are closed due to vaping. She also gets frustrated when she sees her peers getting affected in a negative way. Hensley’s feelings are being felt by the administration too.

“The start of the school year is where we saw a lot of vaping,” Principal Tim McCarthy said.
Restroom vaping has quickly become the norm. Over the summer and at the beginning of the school year was when vaping was at its peak. Students might vape on their own time but at school that is not the case. Vaping is illegal on school grounds, regardless of age.
Additionally, students often gain an addiction quickly, and some choose the bathrooms to execute that behavior.

“I think it is unappealing that somebody vapes and exposes those chemicals in a public restroom,” senior Charlie Schaeffer said.
Even though Schaeffer is graduating this year, he is looking out for the future of our school.
In 2019, Missouri has reported 530 illnesses related to vaping and some of those have led to death. CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat reported that 16% of those who have become ill are 18 or younger. PCH has 1,216 students enrolled containing ages 14-18. This means that around 32% of students could be ill because of vaping just in our school.
McCarthy says his main goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy. Even if there are teens not vaping, it still affects them.

“Peers are often frustrated with this too,” he said.
Students are scared to go to certain bathrooms throughout the building because of who and what might be in there.
Another thing teachers, students and administrators have put into consideration is how close the bathrooms are to the English wing. Some students might argue that they are late to class because of the inconvenience of the bathrooms being closed.

“We shouldn’t have to get tardies for having to go to the restroom in another area of the school,” sophomore Aidan Shelledy said.
This is something that has been brought to the attention of administrators.

“There are multiple ways to get to class on time and if they prioritized the bathroom they shouldn’t be late,” McCarthy said
Sarah Burgess who is an English teacher has mixed feelings about the bathroom situation.

“It does make it more difficult for classes in the back of the building, but I appreciate the administration’s attempts to find solutions to issues at school,” Burgess said.
Since Burgess teaches in the English wing, this has affected her classes when they need to use the bathroom.

“I have to take them at their word that they are actually using the restroom, since the closest one is locked. It’s been somewhat inconvenient for me because it’s harder to use the bathroom between classes,” Burgess said.
Burgess and her students have now adapted to the change and have learned to prioritize the bathrooms and time in class.Parkway Central is looking for more ways to prevent vaping at schools and the bathroom is the first on the list.
PCH is not the only school struggling with students vaping. Parkway West is experiencing the same thing. Savannah Arya is a student at Parkway West High School and was interviewed by KSDK about how vaping has impacted her school and what their protocol is. PWH also pinpointed spots at their school where vaping is typical, so-called “black spots” because they are easily defined.

“Every high school has those spots where kids know where to Juul. In the staircase is a huge thing,” Arya said.
Parkways West’s “spot” is under the stairs but here at Parkway Central the bathrooms is where it all takes place.