As youngsters finally returned to face-to-face classes at schools across the island, this week and last week, several found themselves being reminded of the expectations their educational institutions have for their grooming and general appearance before stepping onto campus grounds.
Our Today understands that there have been a number of cases of students, for example, being turned away from school gates and sent to have their hair cut before returning to the classroom.
In some cases, the students had come back to school with trendy hairstyles that suited them at home and on the social scene, while in others youngsters had avoided visits to the barbershop amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the island.
Though acknowledging that some children returned to the physical space with unsuitable hairstyles, schools with which Our Today spoke said they had not rejected their students.
Raymond Treasure, principal of the York Castle High School, said the institution has a policy on grooming which all parents/guardians have signed.
Having seen a few cases where males have entered the campus with unsuitable hairstyles, such as mohawks and the ‘crazy dread’ (fade and plaits), Treasure stated that a discussion is had with both students and their parents on the matter, and, in the majority of cases, parents have complied. In the event that there is not compliance, however, students have been asked to wear a covering over their heads.
Treasure said no student has been turned away from his school’s gates and stressed that it was not the school’s policy to do so, adding, “…because, based on the childcare and protection act, I mean, I tell a student not to come in, and they go on the road and get in trouble, I would be liable”.
Dennis Webster, vice principal at Camperdown High School, echoed Treasure’s sentiments, expressing that his institution has also had discussions with parents in the few cases seen.
“We have had quite a number of boys who have come in with the hair in all sorts of interesting looks. But we have not had the case that we have not received support form the parents, in terms of making whatever amendments that need to be made,” Webster said.
He continued: “In fact, in most of these cases, we would hear from the parents ‘I told this boy not to come to school like this. I have been speaking to him from whenever. Don’t worry about it, Sir, we will have whatever adjustments that need to be made, made’.”
One high school principal, in particular, dismissed any notion that concerns around visiting barbershops during the pandemic have impacted grooming practices.
“It is not true that [students] are scared of going to barber. They are indeed going to the barber, but they are focusing on a particular trend where fashion is concerned,” argued the principal, who preferred not to be identified.
Another principal, who also opted not to be named, noted that, though a policy is in place on the appearance of students, his school is a democratic institution and, if the majority of parents opt to allow their children to wear whatever hairstyle they desire, then that is the direction in which the school will go.