Whitehall-Yearling High School and Rosemore Middle School students may be used to wearing pajamas to their virtual lessons these days, but they'll have a unified dress code whenever they return to their classrooms.
While the day that will occur remained uncertain April 19 because of the order of Gov. Mike DeWine to close schools to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Whitehall school board acted April 9 to loosen some parts of the dress code as well as to align the regulations at both schools.
Ty Debevoise, director of marketing and communications for Whitehall schools, said the changes include allowing red and white as shirt colors and removing a restriction on the size of logos on clothing.
Middle school students will be permitted to wear sweatpants, but high school students will be prohibited from wearing hooded sweatshirts, aligning policy at both schools.
Added to the no-no list are flip-flops and athletic shorts.
Limited exceptions to the dress code will be allowed on designated days, such as certain game days, Debevoise said.
The proposed changes evolved from recommendations of the district's policy review committee, said district Superintendent Brian Hamler.
The recommendations were made after the committee received feedback from 186 high school and middle school parents, 218 students and 63 teachers or administrators who participated in online surveys, Hamler said.
Standing members of the committee are Hamler, treasurer John Walsh, deputy Superintendent Mark Trace, director of accountability and instruction Chris Hardy, director of support services and community relations Doug Shoemaker and board members Darryl Hammock and Zach Wright.
Other invited members who participated in the deliberations are Maria Boyarko, coordinator of support services; Rosemore Middle School principal Rochelle Rankin; and interim Whitehall-Yearling High School principal Crystal Johnson.
Hamler said the dress-code changes are meant to decrease conflicts and promote safety and security.
"Part of the educational process for our students is to learn to dress appropriately in a variety of situations," Hamler said. "Students are expected to dress in a manner appropriate to the school environment and which does not cause disruption to the academic process."
The unified dress code for grades 6-12 is meant "to improve relations by decreasing conflicts between students, staff and parents" as well as promoting an "atmosphere for learning, campus safety and security, and school spirit," according to the text of the code.
Board president Mike Adkins said the new policy should "reduce the number of kids being sent to the office for dress-code violations."
Adkins described the new dress code as a "little more lenient" and something easier to enforce. Yet, school officials acknowledge the new policy won't be well-received by everybody.
"I recognize that there is no dress code that is going to make everyone happy because the opinions vary widely," Hamler said. "However, I think the changes made are reasonable and done with the aforementioned goals at the forefront of the committee's thinking."