20/20 Vision: The Issue with the “First and Last” Rule

By Danielle Matta

It is not a new fact to either students or staff that Tuscarora is a very large school. Everything is massive, from the size of the student body to the physical size of the building. Combine the two, and you get extremely heavy hallway traffic. To get from the gym to a classroom downstairs in the L200 hallway can sometimes take the entire 6 minutes allotted between classes.

The fact of the matter is sometimes it’s just not possible to get your physical needs met while rushing from class to class. Which is why it can be so frustrating to arrive to class on time and rush to the teacher for a bathroom pass, only to be met with a shaking head and pointed finger directed at the clock.

The one rule that has never quite rested well with me is the infamous 20/20 Rule: The rule that prevents teachers from allowing their students out of the classroom the first and last twenty minutes of class.

Don’t get me wrong—the intention behind the rule is logical. It potentially ensures that all students can be accounted for and informed about warms-ups and announcements before everyone decides they need a potty break.

The same thing goes for the last twenty minutes of class, which give teachers a chance to wrap up lessons and distribute homework. The assumption is that if you need to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, go to your locker etc., you will do so either before class or after.

Here’s the issue: As described above, sometimes it’s physically impossible to get from one end of the school to the other, through all the hustle of the hallways, get materials needed for class and still make it to the bathroom. Even if one does manage to get to a bathroom in a timely manner, more often times than not, there is a line ending at the door that—I can tell you from experience—does not always move fast. And if you’re a particularly slow packer like I am, who prefers to wait until the bell rings to start shoving things into backpacks, this reduces the time between classes significantly.

Seeing as the 20/20 Rule is used in other high schools in Loudoun County, not just Tuscarora, the policy is here to stay, and us students just need to adapt and find ways to take advantage of the time given to us between classes, or learn to wait until 20 minutes are over.

But teachers should realize that although rules are in place for good reason, it doesn’t always mean it’s life or death if a kid who really, really needs to visit the restroom, or really, really needs to refill their water bottle is allowed to do so, even if it’s the beginning or end of class. Us high schoolers are actually human who have human needs and make human mistakes sometimes— like grabbing the wrong binder, or bringing a bean burrito for lunch, and it’s okay to make exceptions. I promise that if we tell you we really need to go—we probably should.