Out With the New, In With the Old: The Return of Gym Uniforms at Tech

The SGO Store, fully stocked for the first school year in which students have had to wear Tech gear to gym classes since 2019-20.

The SGO Store, fully stocked for the first school year in which students have had to wear Tech gear to gym classes since 2019-20.

Sonam Thukral, Hard News Editor

As students return to Brooklyn Tech in-person for the second time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, students are beginning to experience a sense of normalcy, such as in-person clubs and the termination of random COVID-19 testing. After two years since its suspension, normalcy at Tech also means the return of the gym uniform policy, which has caused controversy within the school community.

At the start of the school year, the school administration announced that students would once again have to wear full gym uniforms during Physical Education classes. In previous years, students needed to buy one top and one bottom from the SGO store for a complete gym uniform, as well as a school lock to use in their locker rooms. This year, students only need to purchase one T-shirt and one school lock from the SGO store, given that they were able to acquire gym-appropriate sweatpants, shorts, and/or leggings in gray or navy. Students are also required to remove all jewelry while participating in PE class.

Following the COVID-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020, and the subsequent transition to remote learning, the gym uniform policy quickly became irrelevant. When schools across the city finally reopened for the first in-person school year in 2021, the policy was revoked by the Brooklyn Tech SGO, and students were free to wear nearly whatever they wanted during PE classes, with limited exceptions such as button-down shirts, dresses, and skirts, as long as they had appropriate footwear.

After the prolonged absence of the policy, students and administrators have mixed feelings about its return. Ms. Carpio, the SGO store secretary, noted how the reinstatement of the policy resulted in long, slowly moving lines extending out of the cafeteria during the first two weeks of school. At the start of pre-COVID school years, freshmen were mostly the ones flocking to the SGO store to purchase uniforms. This year, the absence of the policy for the past two years caused freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and some seniors to spend their lunches and free periods in line. The assistance of administrators and student volunteers from the COSA office helped the lines move faster, but it still took a significant amount of time for many students to purchase their uniforms. As a result, the deadline to purchase uniforms was extended twice, first until October 1, and then until October 11th. Although the lines have shrunk significantly, many clothes in certain sizes ran out quickly, leaving some students with ill-fitting uniforms.

The prices of various merchandise also changed this year. For example, last year, students were offered the option of buying a single T-shirt in-person for $15 or two for $25, but the discount for two has been discontinued. Additionally, Carpio noted that since pajama pants were popular in past school years, the administration decided to increase the price of an individual pair from $20 to $22. The price of a pair of shorts also jumped 25% from $20 to $25. Even on the online school merchandise store, since the fall of 2021, the price of a simple T-shirt with the Brooklyn Tech logo has increased by 40%, not including shipping costs. However, the in-person prices of many other pieces of merchandise remained unchanged, including sweatpants and hoodies. The price of a lock also dropped from $25 to $20.

Evidently, the return of gym uniforms at Tech has been a significant change for the school community, raising questions about affordability, responsibility, and comfort during PE classes.