Staggered dismissal should be reinstated

Andrew Falls, Staff-Writer

During the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school year, Tallmadge High School implemented a staggered end of day dismissal. Upperclassmen were dismissed at 2:40, while underclassmen were released at 2:45.


While originally instituted to reduce possible COVID-19 transmission, having a staggered dismissal had many other benefits aside from reducing the risk of getting sick. I believe staggered dismissal should be brought back in some form for several reasons such as safety and traffic efficiency.


A staggered dismissal reduces the number of students leaving the building at once, in turn making the parking lot much safer to navigate, especially for student drivers. Having half of the student population gone when underclassmen are released greatly reduces the risk of accidents in the parking lot, especially for students who may walk or bike home.


Staggered dismissal helped alleviate traffic congestion. Having all student drivers and parent pick-ups leave the parking lot at the same time causes major traffic congestion, overall delaying leaving the high school for everyone. This also ties into safety, naturally having less traffic makes navigating a parking lot both in a car and on foot much safer. Many upperclassmen have after-school jobs. Reducing traffic would reduce the risk of being late to a workplace.


         Releasing all students at one time presents a major safety risk, particularly at exit ways. The flow of students through just a few doors causes a bottleneck effect making it very slow to exit the building. Having most of the student body in one crowded location, unfortunately, creates an accidental target for potential school threats. Having a staggered dismal would reduce the number of students crowding exit ways, overall making it quicker and safer to exit the building.


        When interviewing Principal Mark Treen about the topic of staggered dismissal, he gave some insight into the subject. When asked if COVID-19 had subsided to a rate in which staggered dismal was not necessary, he respond by saying “In mid-August, the CDC gave guidance indicating that we are moving towards an endemic stage of COVID which means that we have adequate safeguards in place where we can revise some of the protocols schools put in place.  The staggered dismissal time was one of those.”


When asked if one dismissal is overall better than two, he said “Having one dismissal allows for us to return to a schedule that has four consistent blocks.  In the staggered dismissal, block four was cut short so we could achieve greater distancing requirements as a result of the pandemic.” Treen said. 

Lastly, when questioned on if the staggered dismal system could be reimplemented if proven to be safer and more efficient, he said the following “The pandemic has taught schools to not rule out any type of change or innovation that help our school community to be safe.  At this time, I believe that being in the endemic stage rules out any reversal.  On the other hand, I’ve learned that anything is possible if needed.”


One possible alternative is to dismiss student drivers at 2:40, clearing the parking lot for student pick-ups, walkers, and bikers.


As of the current schedule, staggered dismissal is not being reimplemented based on the reasons listed by the school administration. On the other hand, as mentioned by Treen, anything is possible if it helps the overall safety of the school. I still do believe that having a staggered dismissal had many unseen benefits aside from reducing COVID-19 risks, and reinstating the policy in one form or another would make the end of day operations at THS not only quicker but also much safer.