Saddle Brook's new districtwide dress code won't prevent student athletes from carrying on the longstanding tradition of wearing team jerseys to school in the run up to game days, high/middle school principal James Sarto said.
The board of education discussed the matter in depth at its meeting last week, and while some members initially expressed concerns about permitting the practice, they ultimately decided to leave the policy decision up to school administrators.
"The board was very nice, they said let’s leave it to principals, and that’s, I believe, how it should be," Sarto said. "On Fridays, if you’re in a sport in season, you can wear your sports jersey."
A number of board members had worried that if the policy weren't extended to all sports teams and clubs, it might engender jealousy in some students who felt left out.
Sarto said he doesn't expect that to be a problem, because the policy will be inclusive. Athletes for any in-season sport with a game that week will be permitted to wear their team jersey on Friday, as will members of the band or other school groups with events.
He compared it to the practice of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who wear their uniforms for special occasions in the elementary schools.
"It doesn’t make the other kids feel bad," he said. "You have the opportunity to join Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, you have the opportunity to join any team here."
By the same token, Sarto said he doesn't want the policy to be so lax that it gets abused.
"We don’t want it to get out of hand to the point where every day it’s something else with some other kind of shirt," Sarto said, noting that he'd deal with the policy for school clubs on a case-by-case basis.
"We’re breaking it down as it comes up, but [the transition to uniforms] has been smooth," he said. "Smoother than I thought it would be, and I didn’t think it would be horrible."
Athletes have worn their jerseys on the first two Fridays of the school year without incident, and Sarto expects it to stay that way.
"The kids haven’t had an issue with any of this stuff, so that’s how I want to leave it," he said.