20-minute rule: What’s the pointe?


South Pointe High School principal Dr. Al Leonard stands with students beside the main flag pole prior to the 2 p.m. balloon launch ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 20.


The 20 minute rule is a policy that South Pointe created four years ago, which states students can’t leave the first or last 20 minutes of class, hoping this rule would decrease students from walking around in the hallways and distracting other working students coming in and out of the classes.

South Pointe’s faculty started realizing that students would leave their classes just because they wanted to get out of doing work or going to meet friends in the hallways. After looking at a study of how effective schools are run, they came across the 20 minute rule.

I personally don’t agree with this rule. Classes are 90 minutes long and if you take the 40 minutes away, that leaves only about 50 minutes to be able to go to the bathroom. I found that since we have such a short period of time to be able to leave the classroom that every student has to try and fit into that time period. Also, in most of the classes, the middle part of class can be the most important time. Usually that is the time the teacher is giving the students time to practice what the lesson was that day.

During the short period of time we have traveling to our next class, the bathrooms are packed. Usually you have to wait in a line to use the bathroom, hoping not to be late. If you don’t have enough time, you have to wait a whole 20 minutes before being allowed to leave the classroom.

In the policy, it claims that if it is an emergency that the student can be excused. But, most teachers don’t follow that. If the student says it’s an emergency then teacher usually threaten us with detention. This is totally unfair considering we can’t help how our body functions and when we have to use the bathroom. The purpose of this rule was to protect the instructional class time, not to punish us for when we need to be excused.

One day in class we were doing independent work, and I finished early with about 15 minutes left in class. I had to use the bathroom, and I knew that if I did not go then, I wouldn’t have a chance since the bathrooms are overcrowded during class changing. I asked my teacher if I could be excused and he said no, because of the 20 minute rule. Even though I had finished my work, I couldn’t go to the bathroom because prior students had abused this so-called “privilege?” I ended up going back to my seat doing nothing, and didn’t get to use the bathroom when the bell rang because it was full.

For two days I sat outside the bathroom during the first and last 20 minutes of class, finding that about 34 students went the bathroom during the times they were not supposed to. This means either the teacher let them leave the class ignoring this rule, or the students were punished with detention for leaving their classes.

I asked sophomore Josie Dibrell what her thoughts on this rule were and she said, “Most of my teachers don’t follow this rule and allow students to go whenever they need to. It never interrupts the class and it’s not an issue at all.”

I think that this unnecessary policy needs to be changed. As long as the student doesn’t interrupt the class, they should be able go to the bathroom whenever they need to. If a certain student starts to abuse being able to leave, then that particular student should be punished and not allowed to go, not the entire school. Teachers expect students to act as if they’re adults but we don’t even have the right to go to the bathroom if we need to.

By Molli Helms, opinion editor