The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

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New policies regarding safety, dress code, phones come to campus

Alex Whelchel
Along with new policies, the theme for this school year is thrive.

As students returned to school on Aug. 21, new policies regarding safety, dress code and phones greeted them. New principal Stacia Snyder made some changes as well as the district. 

Assemblies took place throughout the first week of school highlighting the new policies and putting emphasis on existing ones.

“Whether it’s dress code, electronics or movement around the building, the purpose is different depending on what it is,” Snyder said. “Electronics and dress code are more for the instructional side, but when it comes to areas around the building that we’ve changed some of our protocols on, it’s a safety thing.”

In the hallways

In relation to safety, administration is cracking down on students being in the hallways. Only one person may use the hall pass at a time and students must use the bathroom closest to their classroom. 

“We’re having teachers in different locations so we can make sure that if something were to happen we can account for everybody,” Snyder said. “When we have little pockets of areas where we don’t know where kids are, or kids come into school and just hang out in an area (instead of going to class), we try to minimize some of those interactions.”

If a student is found in an unauthorized area, administrators have the right to question them. This may include being in the wrong bathroom, going to tutorials without a pass or going to the library without permission.

“Senior dining,  the cafeteria or the main hall are the big areas where kids can gather in the morning,” Snyder said. “Throughout the day it’s more kids moving to classes, or kids being in the hallways during lunches. We’re pushing them to go to the cafeteria or senior dining.”

During the assembly, students were told administration has the right to search students caught in unauthorized areas, which caused some confusion, but Snyder says there are limits to this policy.

“We would handle (a student in an unauthorized area) the way we handle any other disciplinary situation,” she said. “We would talk to the student, find out what’s going on, get a better understanding of where the student is and what the need of the student is. We would address them being in an area they shouldn’t be, but we always want to make sure we’re talking to kids and having that conversation. We’re not just gonna search a kid if they are a little late to lunch.”

Another policy causing discourse throughout campus is students not being allowed into the hallways until 8:45 a.m. Along with this, students must leave campus by 4:40 p.m. and seniors with off periods must leave immediately after their last class ends.

“I feel like we should be allowed to go tutoring without feeling interrogated or embarrassed by admin,” senior Chesney  Gaines said. “I also don’t feel like I should be forced off campus for 6th and 7th period and then have to come back in an hour or two for clubs.”

Although many students are not fond of this new rule, some teachers find it keeps the campus more secure.

“I believe (students not being allowed in hallways until 8:45) creates a more secure environment for our campus,” art teacher Julie Ebarb said. “I think it benefits students and teachers equally because it allows teachers to focus on students who are in the building before and after school for tutoring or clubs.”


After the passage of House Bill 114, policies surrounding possession of drugs and tobacco on campus have become more strict. Students caught with any type of alcohol, drugs, vape or tobacco will be given mandatory Comal Discipline Center placement for 30 days.

“I am fond of the more strict rules for vapes and drugs,” Gaines said. “That should never be an issue at a high school campus.”

Dress code

Dress code has also been updated after a survey sent to students and parents during the summer. Students are now allowed to wear shorts, as long as they are of modest length, and tank tops, as long as straps are two inches wide . 

“If the principal determines that a student’s grooming or clothing violates the school’s dress code, the student will be given an opportunity to correct the problem at school and return to the classroom,” the Comal ISD website reads. “If the problem cannot be corrected at school, the campus administration will work with the student and a parent to obtain an acceptable change of clothing for the student in a way that minimizes the loss of instructional time.”

Phones in the classroom

New to campus this year is an updated phone policy in which students must put devices away for the entirety of class periods. The only time phones can be used are during the passing period, lunch and before or after school. This new policy is aimed at helping students learn and focus better. 

“I honestly feel like the phone policy isn’t that bad,” freshman Brylee Hayden said. “It makes me focus in class without having the urge to look at my phone. Sometimes I wish I had (my phone) so I could look at the time and stuff though.”

Although students are finding some of the new policies to be bothersome, Snyder insists maintaining safety on campus is of utmost importance, and that’s the goal of reviewing and modifying rules and policies each year.

“The first couple weeks of school are an adjustment, so we’ve just been monitoring and trying to make sure that as we get into the school year that we can flow seamlessly and we’ll make adjustments that we need to,” Snyder said. “Every campus has different needs and we’re trying to make the most of what our needs are here at Smithson Valley.”

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