Filth in Our Facilities
March 10, 2022
When the bathrooms are broken and filled with students just hanging out, it leads to the bathrooms becoming really unclean. While the custodial team cleans the bathrooms multiple times a day, it still isn’t enough to keep up with the disgusting habits of the Frederick students.
Physical education teacher Sheli Mares says, “I don’t typically use the student restrooms. It is frustrating when sinks aren’t working or soap dispensers don’t work.” Math teacher Dennis Soukup seconded this, stating “I never use the students’ bathroom. It’s gross. It smells bad. During passing periods, they don’t flush.”
A bathroom being dirty isn’t a surprise. According to research by Buildings Magazine, “Nearly 50% of students rate the condition of their school restrooms as “poor or fair,” and 32% of students don’t use a school restroom because it’s usually dirty or smelly.” Their surveys of high schools around the country identified the same perceptions as we did when interviewing students and teachers at Frederick: no one wants to use a facility that is unwelcoming or unclean.
There are two issues with keeping Frederick’s bathrooms clean: getting access to the bathroom and the filthy habits of some Frederick students. “Cleaning the bathrooms isn’t always fun because you have kids using it as a hangout and turning it into a lunch room,” Mr. Barela told us. Since custodians have to wait until a bathroom is clear in order to clean it, students using a bathroom as a hangout spot delay this cleaning, keeping the bathroom unsanitary for longer.
Student behaviors are also a factor. The rules of using the restroom are clear from the start of potty training: go in the bowl, wipe yourself, and flush it down. Yet Frederick students frequently miss the porcelain when relieving themselves and don’t flush… or they flush the wrong things.
“I am having to pull everything from apples, oranges, juices, pizza, everything out of the toilet, urinals, and the walls on a daily basis,” Mr. Barela said. A common item the custodians find blocking toilets are vapes, as students flush them to try to get rid of evidence if they are about to get caught. “The craziest thing I’ve pulled out of a toilet here would have to be dirty underwear. Some have even thrown toilet paper on the walls.” While a toilet being clogged with trash drives some students away from the bathrooms, too many students don’t care and… well, pile on to the problem of the blocked toilet, jamming it further.
Ironically, Mr. Barela said that “the women’s bathroom is less destructive [than the men’s] but is way more disgusting.” This is due to the addition of makeup, which is often smeared over surfaces and used for graffiti, and menstruation products, which not only clog the toilet when flushed but can make a bathroom disgusting when not thrown away at all. “I’ve found used pads stuck to stall doors, the walls, even the ceiling,” Mr. Barela said.