EDITORIAL: Change the absence policies, let seniors leave campus!
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Students at Country Day spend about 1,260 hours a year at school, assuming a seven-hour school day for 180 days. Still, 1,260 hours constitutes only 21 percent of waking hours in an entire year.
For a few students, however, the percentage is even lower due to continuous absences from school.
If a student has 10 or more absences in a single class per semester, “the parents may be officially notified, and the student’s semester grade may be negatively affected,” according to the high school handbook.
For unexcused tardies, the handbook also states, six in one quarter will warrant a letter to the student’s parents that is placed in the student’s file.
Nine unexcused tardies will result in a lunch detention.
“(And) if the student is marked ‘tardy unexcused’ again that quarter, the student may be subject to in-school or at-home suspension,” according to the handbook.
Essentially, a student may be suspended for 10 or more unexcused tardies in one quarter. However, these policies for absences and tardies are enforced sporadically at best, and sometimes it takes up to a month for students and their parents to be even notified about an unexcused absence.
We understand that it’s hard to keep track of every single high school student and their whereabouts for the day.
But to prevent the long wait and lack of communication before students are notified about absences or tardies, why not email students and parents every Friday if a student has missed class without an excuse?
This consistent schedule will keep students and parents in the loop and prevent a large buildup of absences that is unknown to the student.
This would also be important if students are punished for their absences, as many don’t keep track of their attendance records.
Yes, CavNet does allow for easier access to attendance records for students. But the issue of vague policies that differ in their enforcement for each student remains.
Each student’s situation is treated “individually and confidentially depending on the circumstances of the absences,” head of high school Brooke Wells said.
Because of the lack of a reliably enforced set of rules, consistent weekly emails would keep students informed about how many classes they have missed and whether there will be disciplinary action for those absences.
Furthermore, every single year, the chief offenders of these unexcused absences are seniors. Senior year is a breeze. Especially in the second semester, seniors have few homework assignments and multiple free periods or dropped classes a day, leaving them hours to waste in the library.
This almost excessive amount of free time leads seniors to be tempted to leave campus. However, because seniors are required to sign out and submit proof that they have their parents’ permission to leave, they often forego signing out altogether so that they don’t have to deal with the hassle of calling their parents.
Signing out is of the utmost importance because the school is legally responsible for its students and must know their location in case of an emergency.
To give seniors incentive to sign out, seniors should have the option of submitting a permission slip from their parents at the beginning of the year that allows them to leave campus. If a senior’s grades start to slip, parents could revoke their permission to keep their student on campus.
Seniors would still need to sign out but would not have to waste time trying to get a hold of a parent, grandparent, guardian, neighbor, postman or anybody else who could permit them to slip off campus for a quick Jamba Juice!
Originally published in the May 8 edition of the Octagon.