Hand Dryers in the Restrooms


Mackayla Males, grade 8, wants to know, “where are the paper towels?”

Hand dryers were recently installed in the restrooms throughout the school district.  The idea of installing these hand dryers came from the sixth graders last year, our current seventh graders, after studying recycling.   While environmental awareness and responsibility should be applauded, is it practical to ask a school to function without paper towels in the restrooms?

According to high school principal, Mrs. Rupp, “The hand dryers were installed beginning in spring of 2017 and finished in the summer, along with the automatic soap dispensers. They are more efficient, economically and environmentally.”   According to maintenance supervisor, Mr. John Sayers, the hand dryers will pay for themselves in two years. Each individual hand dryer costs $315, and the district spent $8,190 to supply hand dryers for all three buildings. They will be saving $3,000-$3,500 per year by making this change. Before the switch, the district was spending $4,000 on paper towels.

Despite the savings to the district budget, hand dryers alone are not an ideal situation for the high school.  The school should have tested the dryers in one restroom per building.  If they had, the distractions the hand dryers cause in the classrooms would have been clear.  The hand dryers are ridiculously loud with the sound traveling beyond multiple classrooms located nearby.

In addition, many situations arise when students or teachers would need paper towels, not hand dryers. If a student spills water during class and there are no paper towels in the classroom, what is he/she supposed to do? Do you get the janitor to come in and clean it up and disrupt class? Do you go to another classroom and ask if they have paper towels? What if there is a class that is painting and they need to clean the brushes? What are you supposed to do when you get a nose bleed? Are you supposed to put your head under the dryer and hope you can make it to the nurse? What happens if you have makeup on and you need to touch it up? Toilet paper isn’t that great, so you will just have to hope for the best. There are a variety of situations where you need to have paper towels in the building.

Students are the ones using the hand dryers, and they had no say in the matter–except for the incoming seventh graders, who did not realize how much the high school depends on paper towels being available.  It is not right that the school decided to take away students’ easy access to paper towels.

More and more, students and parents area being asked to supplement the school budget beyond their school taxes.  (Think about “pay to play” and sports fund-raising here.  )  But when a district eliminates paper towels to save money, that seems extreme.  Are there other ways that the school could save money or find money elsewhere to support the budget?  Perhaps next year the district will decide to make the hand dryers coin-operated:  25 cents per dry!