Horizon West Middle School experiments with pilot potty program

During the 10-day program, students used a website called Smartpass to request to use the restroom.

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Horizon West Middle School completed recently a 10-day pilot program that changed the way students could access the restrooms on campus.

During the program, which began Jan. 9, students used a website called Smartpass to request to use the restroom. Teachers then could check the website to see how many students currently were out of class and then determine whether to approve the request. Once approved, students were given four minutes to complete their trip. 

Students were allowed to have two restroom passes per day; however, teachers were able to override the system at any time.

School administrators determined a four-minute time limit because that is the same amount of time students have to transition between class periods. According to Principal Michelle Thomas, collected data from the program indicates the average restroom trip lasted 3 minutes, 20 seconds.

Thomas said the pilot program was discussed in October 2023 at the School Advisory Council and Parent-Teacher-Student Organization meetings.

“The program is an innovative option that helps transform student movement and enhances student safety, limits classroom disruptions, allows for more focus during instruction time and reduces the number of students outside of their classrooms,” Thomas said. “In the short period of time the pilot has been in action, school administration has seen less disruption in the hallways, and students have expressed that they appreciate the change.”

As of Jan. 11, more than 1,500 passes have been issued to students, she said.

More information will be provided to parents after the program’s completion and review.

In addition to restroom access, the program was used for students who needed to go to the nurse or visit grade-level offices. It was a Horizon West Middle-only program — not an Orange County Public Schools initiative.



Michael Eng

As a child, Editor and Publisher Michael Eng collected front pages of the Kansas City Star during Operation Desert Storm, so it was a foregone conclusion that he would pursue a career in journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his wife and three children, or playing drums around town. He’s also a sucker for dad jokes.

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