MOUNT VERNON - In June, parents of students at Mount Vernon High School were informed of a more stringent school dress code, to be enforced effective with the start of school Aug. 24.
Open-toed shoes, high heels and flip-flops are all casualties of the new dress code. School officials say safety is one of the reasons those footwear items are banned, but there are other considerations.
Dr. Robert Atwell, a local podiatrist, is not a personal fan of flip-flops.
“It’s one thing for high school kids to wear them around the pool or something like that,” he said, “but I’m not a big fan of flip-flops in a school setting. I think it is appropriate to ban them, as well as open-toed shoes. Besides the potential for injury, and certainly for adults, flip-flops provide no support, and I think support is important. Young people, their feet are going to be a little more forgiving, but when you think about wearing flip flops, the toes are going to curl a little bit to keep the flip-flop on the foot. And that will affect the gait. When you don’t have support around what we call the heel counter, like the back of a shoe, it would tend to allow the foot to turn outward — what we call pronate — more.”
Atwell said he also thinks it is very practical to prohibit shoes with heels over 3 inches high.
Student reaction to the stricter rules of dress, including items beyond footwear, are mixed, ranging from full support to qualified support to total disagreement. Senior Michael Murray doesn’t mind it.
“I don’t think it is as irrational as some high schoolers think it is,” he said. “I don’t think it’s too much of a change [from the old policy]. I don’t worry about it too much. I do worry about the amount of backlash they might be going to get from students.”
“I think it’s totally bogus,” said freshman Taylor Zolman. “Hooded sweatshirts being ruled out is crazy. I wear them, but I don’t put the hoods up. Shorts that have to hit your knees — that’s like guys’ shorts. I can get the flip-flops, because I have seen kids that had their big toes broken from them. I get that, but the others? ... Spaghetti straps I get, but tank tops, I think, should be OK.”
“Regarding no hoodies or flip-flops, I think it’s ridiculous,” sophomore Daniel Baker said. “I don’t see why we can’t have hoodies. Flip-flops might be a safety hazard, but hoodies? What are you going to do when it’s kind of chilly out and the students are cold? What are they going to hide in them? It’s kind of pointless, I think.”