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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

Staff Editorial: New 5-Star app requires adjustments to hall pass limits

Asaph Li
The administration has introduced the 5-Star app (left) and physical restroom passes attached to lanyards for the fall semester of the 2023-2024 school year. School officials plan to make the digital app, which limits restroom use to seven minutes twice a day, a schoolwide requirement for teachers and students to use by the start of the spring semester.

The Accolade Editorial Board unanimously agrees that the 5-Star app hall pass system needs revision in its time and daily limits.

As the second semester approaches in January, the Sunny Hills administration plans to fully implement the digital app called 5-Star for students to use when leaving class to use the restroom. A “kiosk” mode option is available for use on a Chromebook for those who don’t have smartphones.

At the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, administrators had asked for teachers to volunteer to pilot the digital restroom pass process, and a total of 17 ended up signing up for it. Based on their positive feedback, school officials have informed the rest of the staff that they intend to implement this system schoolwide at the start of the spring semester on Monday, Jan. 8.

At a Wednesday, Nov. 1, staff development meeting, administrators have also encouraged instructors new to the 5-Star app to consider implementing this system the rest of the fall semester so they and their students can be more prepared for the transition in the next semester.

Here’s how it works once a teacher has granted permission for students to leave the classroom to use the restroom: 

  • Students with smartphones must have downloaded the 5-Star app on their devices. Then they will need to open it up and click on the “Hall Pass” option.
  • The next screen will ask users to scan the QR code that administrators have provided to all staff to put up somewhere in their classrooms.
  • That will cause the users’ screen to change to green for go like a traffic signal, which students must then show to their instructors before exiting the classroom.
  • The screen will remain that color for seven minutes. 
  • When students return to their classroom, they must rescan the QR code to end the pass.
  • If students don’t rescan before seven minutes, the screen will turn red, signaling the time is up.
  • The system will only allow students to use the digital restroom passes two times a day, though exceptions are given to those with medical conditions. After students use both of their daily passes, teachers may allow students to use a lanyard hall pass if they need to use the restroom again.
  • The process is similar for those without phones — students will use a Chromebook in 5-Star app’s “kiosk” mode, and they need to enter their long ID for the green to come on. When they return, they must check back in on the screen.
  • Instructors are also granted flexibility in how they desire to implement the digital restroom pass system, with some allowing students to take their phones with them.

Assistant principal Peter Karavedas, in his second year in this position, has been the lead on developing this new process, which is used at other campuses like Buena Park High School.

Karavedas has told The Accolade that the 5-Star app policy represents another effort to create a safer campus as well as to keep more students in the classroom, where the learning is supposed to take place.

“From a campus safety standpoint, we want to be able to monitor who’s out of class, when they’re out of class and do they have authorization to be out of class,” the assistant principal said. “This way we can account for those things so that students aren’t walking literally all the way across campus to use restrooms to get out of class.”

Although Karavedas’ concerns make sense — students are expected to come to school to learn in the classroom and not leave it to roam around campus and avoid instruction — we have issues with how it got rolled out and the time constraints applied to restroom use.

First of all, administrators should consider letting students be part of the process of implementing a new school policy, especially since it will involve us. Besides justifiably asking teachers to pilot the 5-Star app process to provide feedback on its use, school officials failed to consider the opinion of the student body, something that the previous administration under former principal Allen Whitten used to do. Why couldn’t a group like from the ASB or the Student Senate be included so they could also give their thoughts on a digital restroom pass?

Offering students a voice in this new system would also make it more reasonable for the time restrictions administrators have arbitrarily imposed for those leaving the restroom.

Another concern involves the amount of time students get to use the restroom. Instead of the seven minutes provided, The Accolade advocates for 10 minutes instead.

Karavedas said the administration decided on seven minutes after seeing other schools using the same limit with no visible issues.

Here’s the problem we see:

Male students toward the back 10s and 20s rooms must walk across the campus to use the 90s restroom or halfway to the quad restrooms, which may take up a large portion of the allotted time.

These students have considerably less time to relieve themselves compared to others who are in a class closer to their gender’s restroom.  

Thus, the extra three minutes would compensate for the time lost walking to the restroom and back to the class.

Finally, the most egregious aspect of this policy is that students can only use the restroom twice in a school day unless they have a registered medical condition.

Karavedas said the system adopted the two-pass limit because students have enough time to use the restroom before school, during break and lunch and after school, seeing no need for more than two passes in a day.

An Accolade poll of 106 respondents administered from Nov. 29-Dec. 11 showed 72% of students dislike the two-pass limit, while 5% like the restriction and 24% don’t care either way.

How do you feel about the 5-Star app two-pass limit per day?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

The administration should consider removing the limit entirely, as students may occasionally have days when they need to use the restroom more than two times, and the potential punishment for using the restroom too many times may cause unneeded stress.

Instead, the school should only punish students who use multiple passes daily, and let everyone else use the restroom as needed.

The school has also not provided specific guidelines regarding consequences for going over the allotted time, which is something students should know to avoid the possibility of having to possibly serve detentions or Saturday schools — the only known actions issued to students for violating campus policies besides suspension.

Karavedas said he will assign them as he sees fit.

Although administrators have listened to and will continue to consult with teachers before the system goes schoolwide, they should also consider students’ perspectives before the final rollout starts on Monday, Jan. 8.

The Accolade Editorial Board is made up of the top editors and section editors on the new 2023-2024 staff with the guidance of adviser Tommy Li. If you have a question about the board’s decision or an issue for the board to discuss and write about, please send an email to [email protected].

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The Accolade editorial board is made up of the top editors and section editors on staff with the guidance of adviser Tommy Li. If you have a question about the board’s decision or an issue for the board to discuss and write about, please send an email to [email protected].
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