KW locker rooms will remain open after school

For student safety, girls’ locker room was closed after 3:25 at start of school year

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Temporary closure of the girls’ Kinetic Wellness locker room caused confusion among students in the first few days of school. The issue was resolved quickly as the school stepped up security to increase safety.

New Kinetic Wellness department chair Andrew Butler said that students may perceive that locker room rules are tightening.

“We are identifying security needs and looking at protocols, policies, and past practices to see what we can do for students,” said Butler. “Our goal is to create a safe environment, and we can’t just leave everything wide open,” he said.

Safety and lack of supervision is the reason behind the girls’ KW locker room being closed after school in the first week of school.

“There was some confusion in terms of how we deal with the new security measures,” said Athletic Director Augie Fontanetta. “We’re making sure everything is done appropriately. It’s most important to us that kids are supervised and the building is safe. That’s our priority.” Fontanetta worked with Butler and the KW department on resolving the closed locker rooms.

“When students are in there from 6:30 in the morning to 6:30 at night, it should be a safe place,” said Fontanetta, “so when you’re here, you feel safe.”

Student Alliance communicated with Fontanetta in hopes of letting students know what the current situation is regarding use of the KW locker room.

“We’re working to get the word out to students that they will not be locked for the rest of year,” said Student Alliance president Bill Yen.

Now the locker room is open for use — and supervised — after school, but security is still a concern.

KW equipment assistant, Rubi Flores, said that supervision involves “everything — an emergency, assistance with lockers, and any potential issues.” Her job is more than supervising and involves assigning lockers, managing uniform rentals, preparing equipment for classes, taking equipment out and putting it away.

“It’s all about the safety,” said athletics equipment assistant Beth Lopiccolo, “that’s the reason we’re there after school.”

Flores said, “When I leave right at 3:30 there’s a great number of girls in the locker room. My major concern is safety, especially if someone needed something and there was no one to help out.”

Butler said that to ensure safety, it is “not functional to just lock the door. We have to effectively figure out how to use and supervise the space.” A locker room attendant is there to make sure no one leaves their stuff “up for grabs.”

While the KW locker room is open, the swim locker room is locked during the day, and some girls leave their bags for practice outside the door.

The difference, according to senior swimmer Addy Hillerbrand, is that “someone is there for most of the day, and we’re never worried someone’s going to steal our stuff.”
“The only thing that’s ever gotten stolen is food,” she added.

While it has not been a concern to swimmers, security of students’ belongings is a focus in the KW locker rooms.

“We want to prevent bad decisions that are sometimes made in unsupervised areas,” said Butler, mentioning vaping, theft, and physical altercations as a few examples. “It puts us at risk as a school,” he added.

The KW department is watching out for people, too, now requiring students to wear their green KW uniform shirts for security at doors.

“It helps tremendously to know the students in a class,” said Bill Rose, a security guard near the gym doors several periods a day.

Rose described supervising gym security in the past, “They’d just be filtering in before, and anyone could join in the group.”

“No one’s complained about it,” Rose said about the students.

“I get why they made the decision,” said a junior who takes the Wellness for Life KW class, “but I think it causes students so much more stress.” The former policy allowed students in some classes to wear any New Trier shirt, which was more convenient, said this student.

“If the school says we have to wear them, it’s not that big of a deal,” said senior Aidan Jones.

Any changes in the KW department are related to security improvements throughout the school, including limiting student access to the building to one door in the gym area.

Because the school has a reputation as a safe place, Butler said, “we are strategically implementing subtle changes over time. Changing culture takes time,” he added. “It may feel like a privilege being taken away.”

While policies develop to keep students safe, Butler said, “It is important to make the changes necessary while fitting with the parameters we have.”

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