In my 8th grade classroom, I don't require the kids to ask to use the washroom. We set up the rules (one person out at a time). The kids sign out with the time they left and returned on a clipboard, and they write their names on a small whiteboard posted by the door for that purpose. That way, I have a record of who is leaving when, but I also can tell at a glance who is gone.
I also don't have the kids take the pass to the bathroom either. Who knows what goes on in there! I also have a sign-out/sign-in sheet that is kept on a shelf near the door. The only difference is that I like to see a visual of who is where from any vantage point in my room so...I have old CDs on the shelf as well. The kids need to place one on their desks if they leave the room. The CDs are from junk mailings, broken ones from me, or burned ones that have errors. I also take a Sharpie and just write "lavatory pass" on it so the children know what one to use since I also have one for the office, nurse, media center, etc. Since I only print on enough for the number of students allowed out of the room at the same time, the children self-monitor who can leave. Cheap...effective.
I've seen the hand sanitizer idea and like it. My cooperating teacher from student teaching had a small circle for each student in her class (different color for boys and girls) cut from foam. She then had two hooks on her board. When students went to the bathroom they put up their pass on the hook on the board. She didn't have them ask, they just knew when they were allowed to go. This way the students could also see if another student was in the bathroom. The only problem we had with it was some "darlings" thought it was funny to hide other's passes in books and other places in the room.
our middle school teachers have a stop sign hanging on their doors. Red indicates someone is already out of the room and green indicates you may leave afterr you flip the sign - seems to work for them. It is only for restroom/fountain use.
I, too , use a sign in/sign out method. The kids show me a sign language sign to ask to go to the bathroom (that way they don't verbally interrupt as I teach, others are working, etc.), and I nod my head if it is an alright time for them to go. They then sign out in a small book and sign back in when they come back. They have to read the analog clock to write down the time they leave and the time they come back - this gives them time telling practice. It also helps to know who was in the bathroom at what time if there was an "incident," which seem to happen in school bathrooms! It is also the Calendar Person's job to enter the date every morning in the bathroom log.
I still use a girls and boys hall pass, but instead of taking the pass with them to the bathroom, they just leave it on their desk. This way, I know who is in the bathroom. One year, I had plastic cups that were labeled for boys and girls. They just put the cup on their desk when they had permission to go the bathroom. This method has worked the best for me.
I like the hand sanitizer bottle idea. I like having a visual on a student's desk so I know who is gone and having them take a small squirt of sanitizer is a good idea for those students who forget to wash in the bathroom.
Our students are required to sign in/out in their planners and take those with them to the restroom. However, I also have mine sign out for me, and I have clip ID badges that they have to take. That helps me know who is where.
I have a card flipping chart with each students name or number that is used to show their behavior for the day. When a student goes to the restroom, they take the boys' or girls' bathroom pass and put it in the pocket chart in their pocket. That way, I can see at a glance who is gone, and also the passes do not go to the restroom and get into who knows what.
My first year of teaching I had a problem of students seeing one person go to the bathroom and then everyone wants to go. Also I had students who would get bored and "need" to use the restroom six times a day. Sooooo I printed off bathroom passes taped them to each student's desk and if they had to use the restroom during class time they used their pass (threw it away). They only got one pass per month and if you didn't use your pass at the end of the month you got a treat. Now I know what your thinking, but these were 4th graders AND we had a total of four whole class bathroom breaks a day, plus if it was an emergency (stomach problem) they could just go. Also if I knew of a student who had issues going that's fine. The passes were really for those students who "didn't use the whole class break respectfully" which means they didn't take the time to go. It stopped the chain effect of everyone going and also stopped the frequent visitors.
I have my kids sign in and out. We have to give hall passes so I use address labels made on the computer that say bathroom pass with my name on it so my passes don't have to go to the bathroom. I usually get them at dollar tree so it is real inexpensive.
I keep paper either taped next to the door or I have used a clipboard with paper. Students sign out and put the time they leave and the reason for leaving (water, bathroom, library, etc) It is easy to track certain students' behaviors when you have times listed. Last year, one girl was leaving at the same time each day. I found out she was meeting someone from another class in the bathroom. The sign out sheets are also great for parent conferences if a student tends to leave the room frequently.
I have my kids wear mardi gras beads as my passes. They are sitting back by the door. When they need to use the restroom during work time, they know to go stand by the passes and wait for me to nod. They then put on the necklace and can go. This eliminates constant asking and hopefully them touching it while in the bathroom....now, we can only assume that they are actually washing their hands while there :0. Also, if the beads break or get lost, they are real cheap at the party store. It has worked real well for me the past few years.
I have a boys pass and girls pass from Dollar Tree. I hang them on them wall. Instead of taking them with them, students move their clip (I use clips for attendance/lunch count) and clip it onto the pass so I know who's in the bathroom.