Also, leaving with the class of 2023, the District’s open campus policy. Image: WCASD

Last week, West Chester rising juniors and seniors got what was surely disappointing news, West Chester Area School District is ending its open campus policy. In a letter that went out to parents of high school students, the district cited safety as the reason for its termination. 

“While this practice has been available to students at each of our high schools in recent years, we live in a constantly evolving world, and it is our responsibility as an educational institution to adapt to the challenges and ensure the utmost safety for our students and staff members. By restricting off-campus privileges, we can better mitigate potential risks, supervise student activities, and provide a more secure environment within the school premises,” the letter read.

The policy had allowed juniors and seniors to leave campus at lunch to grab something to eat or just leave but reports are the midday exodus could get crazy. 

“Allowing students to leave campus throughout the day made it much more difficult to effectively keep track of when students were or were not on campus,” Molly Schwemler, Manager of District Communication said in a statement. “Additionally, our staff and safety officers raised concerns about the challenges this policy caused in the school’s parking lots.” 

It seems the policy came under additional strain this past school year with the introduction of the new high school schedule. The new schedule added a midday “support period” to ensure students had enough time for critical functions, like eating lunch. However, in doing so some students were left with an almost 2-hour midday break. 

“One concern I think parents may have is that, with the new high school schedules implemented this past year, many students (like mine) had long breaks in the middle of the day. If they are keeping the same schedule format next year, students like mine will have useless long breaks in the middle of the day when they could be home eating lunch, spending time outdoors, and helping around the house (all of which mine did when they came home on their breaks),” one parent shared with me.

The current high school schedule will remain in place and students will be responsible for using that time productively. “Our staff are available to assist any students that may be unsure of how to make that time beneficial to their learning experience,” Molly said. Students that have study hall during the first or last period of the day will still be permitted to arrive to school late or leave early with parental permission. 

“This review determined that [an open campus] should be discontinued before it became too established among our community as it was not beneficial,” said Molly. So, goodbye to that.

This story was originally published, June 16, 2023

This story is part of a longer weekly West Chester newsletter. Curious what else is going on? You can find the full issue here and the latest newsletter here. Even easier? Subscribe here to get the future issues delivered directly.

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