An April 22 incident at Wilkes Central High School resulting in five male students being charged with simple assault should prompt a review of policies and actual practices impacting adult supervision of locker rooms at all Wilkes County schools.

We won’t presume to pass judgment on the nature or details of what transpired that day when students were in a Wilkes Central locker room after a weightlifting class.

However, horseplay to one person can be something completely different to another. Horseplay can too easily turn into something with damaging consequences, especially when it involves teenage boys.

For these and other reasons, the April 22 locker room incident should never have occurred and presumably wouldn’t have if there had been proper adult supervision.

Wilkes School Superintendent Mark Byrd said Wilkes County School Policy 1510 best applies to supervision of locker rooms.

This policy reads in part, “Students must be reasonably supervised during school hours, including while in class, between classes, on the playground and during recess or lunch periods…. Reasonable precautions should be taken to assure the safety of students on school grounds and on buses before, during, and after school.”

Is that specific enough to adequately insure the safe school locker room environment that parents have every reason to expect for their children?

A search online turned up public school policies elsewhere that specifically address behavior in locker rooms during regular school hours and extra-curricular activities.

One school system requires that a physical education teacher occupy an office in a locker room. This shouldn’t mean that the physical education teacher watches students as they change clothes in the locker room, but rather that the PE teacher be within earshot of locker room to help detect when something inappropriate is occurring.

Some other school systems establish specific lengths of time students can be in locker rooms and prohibit “hanging out” or engaging in horse play there.

Many school systems prohibit recording devices from locker rooms, such as cell phones that can shoot video or take photos.

These and other specific steps to help insure student well-being in school locker rooms are worthy of consideration for inclusion in written policies for the Wilkes County Schools.

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