by Geneva Gleason and Rebecca Plotkin
As the fourth marking period starts up, WHS students are logging onto Genesis to check how many absences of the allotted 18 they’ve spent and cringing at what they find. Most find that they’re left with only a few more sick days and college visits to spare until they’re threatened with the loss of credit in their classes. Although loss of credit is appropriate in some cases, it is often unwarranted. Instead of putting all students through the process the same process once he or she exceeds the absence limit, absences should be looked at wholistically.
Unfortunately, missing school is inevitable in many cases, as is the enforcement of our state mandated law that in order to receive credit, a student can only miss a class 18 times. This number seems adequate, however, we’re in school for ten times the number that our absences are limited to. Juniors, Seniors and even some Sophomores are visiting and interviewing with colleges, many of which only offer interviews on weekdays when their offices are open. Sick days--which prevent disease from spreading and causing other students and faculty to miss school--count as chargeable absences.
After 10 chargeable absences, a student and his or her parent must attend a mandatory meeting. This meeting is intended to be a warning to students, making sure they understand how many absences they have and continue being conscious about missing school. Unfortunately, some students don’t have parents that advocate as strongly as others. This process could be made more fair if a guidance counselor were present. The counselor could act as an equal advocate for all students, coming prepared with perspective on the high school experience and knowledge of any difficulties or accommodations each student has.
This being said, loss of credit should be assessed on a case-by-case basis rather than a hard and fast rule. There are many different reasons for which a student could miss school. Chronic illnesses or conditions, such as concussions or mononucleosis, which are often unpredictable in terms of physical effects on a day-to-day or even hour-to-hour basis, can cause students to miss many days of school. A student racking up absences due to a chronic illness should not face the same consequences as a student who missed a week of school for vacation.
While these cases are undoubtedly incomparable, there are many other situations in between the two extremes which don’t have such obvious solutions. For example, should a student who plays soccer for a club team be exempt from loss of credit after missing a week of gym for a tournament?