The Removal of the Minute Bell
By Cody Sung
Volume 2 Issue 1
October 8, 2021
Original photography by Eva Grace Martinez
If you have been to Valley Stream North High School before the pandemic, you likely have heard a bell that rings one minute before the next period starts. That was the minute bell, or “warning bell.” Its purpose was to notify students of the limited time before class, and that they should immediately head to their next class. However, on the first day of school this year, there was a change besides the new lobby, the new hand sanitizer dispensers, and the signs saying, “Stop the spread of germs.” There was no bell in between the “end of the period” bell and the late bell. The one-minute bell was gone. I thought it was just a mistake, but no: there was simply no more minute bell.
I interviewed our new principal, Dr. Small, on why she made the decision to remove the minute bell. She said “I believe that the warning bell was a hindrance...students did not go straight to class until they heard the warning bell.” She also added the removal “[kept] the hallways moving...[before], people waited to hear the warning bell…students gathered by the lockers. With the removal of the warning bell, students go straight to class.” Furthermore, the minute bell was removed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting crowds and clearing the hallways faster.
Students, though, are almost universally in favor of bringing back the minute bell. While a few students were not very affected, most shared their concerns over being unable to keep track of time while at their locker or in the bathroom. As per a student at North, “[the minute bell is] a good reminder if you are in the restroom or in your locker to when you should get going to class. If the [minute bell] was to come back, I think lateness would be incredibly less common,” he added. Another student at North says “it helps keep track of time and gives a sense of urgency if you’re going to be late for class.” A third student says, “I know some of my friends put alarms on their phones as one-minute bells so they aren’t late either.” These quotes support the importance of the minute bell to our students.
When I informed Dr. Small about why students prefer the minute bell, she explained why she disagreed. “We allow students to walk around with their backpacks [now;] all they have is a device, they should go straight to class.” There is no need to return to your locker and carry heavy books around. As with the new school policy, backpacks are allowed, so trips to lockers should be minimal. As for the bathrooms, Dr. Small states “If you have multiple people in the bathroom, it’s a health hazard in my opinion.” The new school policy to allow the use of the bathroom during class time helps alleviate the health hazard by discouraging students from using the bathrooms all at once in between classes.
While students miss the minute bell, I have seen the results of its removal. Students are less likely to gather around and more likely to walk towards their next class. The removal of the minute bell is working as Dr. Small intended.