Local high school implements electronic hall passes

ASHTABULA, Ohio (WJW) – Lakeside High School in Ashtabula is among the first to use a new program aimed at keeping classes more efficient and students safer at school.

SmartPass, in use just a few weeks at the school, keeps track of students outside of classrooms, giving the old pen and paper hall pass a modern upgrade.

“Allows us to see our hallways in real-time so we know where every student is in the hallways at all times when they got their pass, how long they’ve been in the hallways and when they return to class,” said Principal Douglas Wetherholt. “If there’s a drill or anything happens in the building, they’ll be able to look to see who is in the restroom beside them, who is in the office. It will help us locate our students in real-time.”

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Students can use school issued laptops or phone to electronically request a hall pass and then once granted can leave without disrupting the teacher’s classroom instruction. There is no GPS device in SmartPass, according to the company website.

Teachers can use their phones to monitor which students are outside of the classroom and the intended destination. A student’s name, picture and length of time they have been outside of class are accessible.

“It does save some time,” said Tyler Wilber, a teacher and technology representative at the school. “There’s the accountability factor. You know where the kids are, you can identify them with the photos. On the old paper pass system we may not know who the kid is, if they’re supposed to be in our area and now with the new system, we know.”

Superintendent Lisa Newsome credited Wetherholt with implementing the program and said the reaction to SmartPass is positive.

“Anything that we implement for safety, parents really appreciate, especially in the hallways,” Newsome said. “If there’s a situation with other students, two students aren’t getting along, they can track them.”

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Providing clarity about who is where and why, Wetherholt said. The program will be expanded to the middle school next year.

“It lets me see how much time we’re spending outside the classroom or how much downtime every individual student is having in their educational process,” said Wetherholt. “We are averaging about 5.7 minutes per pass and you can calculate that out, you can look at any student in any given moment, how many passes they have.”

Newsome said the program cost about $1,300.

“Students are very engaged with technology and the more we can make the education process part of their technology process, the better off we are,” Wetherholt said.

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