Juniors should be able to go off-campus during lunch

Roberto Ramirez, Opinions Editor

Do you ever just stand inside the shower and think to yourself, “Hey, I am a Junior, and I can drive; why can’t I leave school with my vehicle like all the other seniors?” It can be noted that this topic has been raised on multiple occasions in multiple locations. Going on tangents with your friends, arguing with an admin over only seniors being able to leave, or simply just sitting on the toilet thinking about it. Now is the time that this debate is of the utmost importance with the pandemic looming over the horizon.

Although the decision of letting juniors leave campus for lunch has some criticisms, some people would argue and make various arguments that juniors are simply not mature enough to go out of campus, juniors would not have enough time to go out and return to campus, liability issues in case one student gets into a car accident, or revamping ID’s to determine who is who. I believe that Students are already thrown into the ring of young adulthood. For example, the Early College High School Academy students (ECHS) are expected to attend their classes and to do whichever work that they’re assigned along with studying the course material to ensure the highest grade possible. If the student chooses not to do their work, that is on them. If the junior student breaks down on the road or is late to class then they’re missing that material for themselves, not the school.

There are concerns about ID’s as well, with ID’s already being issued it would be costly and clunky to redo ID’s for only juniors. While a temporary fix, a QR code sticker could be issued to juniors to stick on their already issued IDs for security to check people in and out in the meantime until next year for a redesign of junior ID’s. No QR code, no leaving campus for lunch.

In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to stay safe and take care of our health. I’m one of the lucky ones to be able to carpool with my mother and eat lunch in a safe and clean environment. Although, the large crowds outside A and B lunch serve as a reminder that not many people have this privilege. With Juniors being able to leave and eat in their car, we can eliminate not all, but at least some of the risks of infections within this campus.

Some of the Juniors are currently enrolled in the ECHS program, meaning they are sent to the Austin Community College campus to attend a series of classes required for associate’s degree credits. These academy students willingly chose the academy to pursue a higher level of education, and to grow from teenagers to young adults. Not only this, but juniors today are looking for scholarships, internships, deciding on future careers, scoring jobs, and studying for upcoming exams for a good outlook on their transcript. However, if the juniors are penalized for simply going to their vehicles to grab a bite, then it is simply hindering the maturity of the students by policing them on minor decisions. Juniors should be allowed to have the freedom of choice of whether to go to their vehicle to eat since they are practically imitating what we do as adults today.

One could argue that juniors could get into automobile accidents or are not experienced drivers. In order to drive as a minor in Texas, you must undergo two phases of licensing before graduating to a full drivers license according to dps.texas.gov It can be agreed amongst the majority of the student body that anything involving the DPS is a jungle to wade through in and of itself with submitting piles of paperwork and completing the drivers ed courses and having the hours to qualify for a license.

I do believe that juniors should be allowed to leave campus for their lunch hour. Of course, there will be some people that would take advantage of the freedom and skip school. With that however, I think it is better to let a handful of teenagers miss their instruction than to let tens of students get ill.