Attendance Policy Gets Altered

The+attendance+desk+in+Building+One+is+where+students+turn+in+absence+excuse+notes+to+Attendance+Secretary+Karen+Wheatley.+Excused+absences+are+included+in+the+absence+total+until+the+student+reaches+15%2C+after+which+absences+must+be+excused+for+a+student+to+avoid+losing+credit.
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Attendance Policy Gets Altered

The attendance desk in Building One is where students turn in absence excuse notes to Attendance Secretary Karen Wheatley. Excused absences are included in the absence total until the student reaches 15, after which absences must be excused for a student to avoid losing credit.

The attendance desk in Building One is where students turn in absence excuse notes to Attendance Secretary Karen Wheatley. Excused absences are included in the absence total until the student reaches 15, after which absences must be excused for a student to avoid losing credit.

Photo provided by: Cara Roth

The attendance desk in Building One is where students turn in absence excuse notes to Attendance Secretary Karen Wheatley. Excused absences are included in the absence total until the student reaches 15, after which absences must be excused for a student to avoid losing credit.

Photo provided by: Cara Roth

Photo provided by: Cara Roth

The attendance desk in Building One is where students turn in absence excuse notes to Attendance Secretary Karen Wheatley. Excused absences are included in the absence total until the student reaches 15, after which absences must be excused for a student to avoid losing credit.

Porter Huyck, Staff Reporter

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On Monday, Oct. 28, Principal Brian Blasewitz announced that the schoolwide attendance policy would be changing in several key points, effective immediately for the 2019-2020 school year. The amendments concern school absences, student privileges and credit loss and recovery. These modifications follow other incentives from the past few years to promote student attendance to improve academic outcomes, such as the HERO program. 

“The most important thing, as always, is we want students to be on campus,” Blasewitz said. “The best way, and easiest way, to keep up with your classes is to be here.” 

All of the alterations to the attendance policy stem from the goal of academic excellence for all students. The main change is the documentation of excused and unexcused absences. Under the new policy, each student is allowed 15 absences per class period per semester, with no distinction between excused and unexcused absences. After those 15 absences, however, each new absence must be excused or credit will be lost for that semester of the class.  

“A part of our responsibility as educators [is] to hold you all accountable and prepare you for life after Lake Brantley,” Blasewitz said. “We felt the best way to do that is to address it through privileges. 

Privileges such as on-campus student parking, off campus senior lunch, Homecoming, Prom and other special school activities are now directly tied to attendance. This marks a divergence from the old policy that only implied a link between attendance and special privileges, providing yet another incentive for students to attend class. 

“While I know CROP [Credit Reinstatement Opportunities Plan] was a popular safety net for students, to me and to the committee, there was no academic relevance to it,” Blasewitz said. “Basically, what it boiled down to was, why is sitting in the cafeteria for three hours on a Saturday the requirement to reinstate credit for a class like Geometry? Or US History? There was no learning going on in the CROP sessions, and so we felt that it was a waste of time and resources for everyone if we continued it.” 

Administration has eliminated CROP sessions and reinstated credits lost in previous years due to attendance, with the goal that everyone will start from a clean slate with this new policy. With these revisions to the attendance policy, it is important to keep in mind that it introduces firmer absence limits than the prior policy. 

“I have all As and one B even though I’ve missed 13 days,” senior Nick Jativa said. “Does that really mean I deserve to nearly fail the semester? Your absences shouldn’t count against you. If you can stay on top of your schoolwork, you should be able to miss as much as you can.” 

His worries are not unique. Many students have questions or concerns about the new policy and what it might mean for them and their academic pursuits. For additional information on the policy, students may refer to the summary of the changes on the school website. For greater detail, they can refer to the actual attendance policy document by following the link on the school website or asking an administrator.  

“I always have an open-door policy to any student that has questions or comments about the change, Blasewitz said. “Or anything for that matter. I am always open to feedback, and discussion about any topic relating to the student body. I would encourage them to come speak to me or a member of my team anytime.”