Update on ANCS Dress Code

Over the last few years we’ve been working through the process of re-evaluating and modernizing our dress code. Our current dress code was last updated in 2017. I transitioned from a classroom teacher to an administrator in 2016 and over the years I’ve heard students complain about the dress code’s disproportionate impacts on girls and on students of color. While it’s important for us to have a dress code to help create a safe and comfortable learning environment for all students, we also want to allow space for individual expression. 

We relaxed enforcement of the dress code when students came back into the building as we worked through the COVID pandemic in the ‘20’-21 school year. In the next school year we created opportunities for students, parents, and teachers to share their feedback on how this relaxed dress code impacted them. Students appreciated the relaxation of the dress code, although some students and most teachers felt the need for boundaries to be set, to help all members of the community feel safe and comfortable.

Our ultimate goal has been to modernize what we are doing, not to just eliminate it altogether. It’s important to have certain minimum standards. Inappropriate or offensive language is also covered in dress codes so dress codes have multiple purposes. Letting students know where the boundaries are is important. As teachers, part of our role is to set boundaries for our students. In middle school teenagers push boundaries in an attempt to learn the limits, so it’s important for us to help them navigate this process.

After researching other modernized dress codes, an updated ANCS dress code was produced earlier this school year. We reviewed the updated dress code with staff in February and discussed ways to enforce the dress code with Respect. We discussed having one-on-one conversations with students and discussing the dress code without body shaming. Students reviewed this dress code, as well as a more student-friendly version, during Physical and Health Education classes the week of Monday, March 18th; and we are sharing it with parents as well via this note in the Courier. Student, parent, and teacher feedback was a part of the process as we created this dress code. If you have any comments about the final version you may share them here.


Mark Sanders