Changes are likely coming to the district’s dress code this school year, banning from classrooms hoods covering heads, pajama tops, mid drift-bearing shirts, and tube tops, after a School Board committee reviewed a flood of public feedback and input from educators and drafted changes to present to the full School Board in August.
According to Douglas Fulton, director of School Administration, Policy 8270, Student Dress Code, spurred more input than any other issue, since the division’s new public feedback procedure was implemented.
“My philosophy is that we should be limiting student’s freedom of expression to the least extent possible,” Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) said during the June 28 Discipline Committee meeting.
Teachers reported that many students use hoods to hide ear buds, covertly listening to music during classroom instruction. Some students also use hoods to cover their faces, making it difficult for teachers to ensure that learners are paying attention during class. Students may wear hooded tops, but the hoods must be down during class. The hood restriction will not apply to religious headdresses and attire.
The new rules outline that pajama shirts may not be worn.
“Some people were trying to compare it to a corporate environment,” Jeff Morse (Dulles) said of the public feedback. “I don’t know that that is entirely accurate, that we need to have a corporate environment, but I agree that we should be trying to enable kids to focus reasonably on what’s going on in the classroom and try to prevent some fundamental distractions.”
All shirts must come down to at least a belt line, banning midriffs from showing.
Tube tops and tank tops that can be untied may not be worn.
Katie Johnson, principal of Belmont Ridge Middle School, weighed in during the meeting to present teachers’ concerns.
“As an administrator and as a teacher, it is challenging when you’re in these situations, you never want to make a child feel singled out or anything of that sort,” Johnson said of enforcing restrictions.
“Tube tops concern me, because I come from a middle school world, where sometimes students act inappropriately and impulsively,” Johnson said.
The full School Board will review the draft of the dress code during its August 10 meeting. The draft and any changes will then move forward to a vote in September.
Correction: an earlier version of this article reported that hoodie sweatshirts and pajama would be banned entirely from classrooms. That is incorrect, as students would be permitted to wear hooded tops with the hood down, and pajama bottoms.