NHS Students Still Adjusting to Attendance Policies


Chief Advocate

Students who are tardy or are checking in must go through the front door and check in through the main office.

Brian Root and Nick Penrosa

WOODBURY — Nonnewaug High School students are still adjusting to the attendance rules reflected in the 2022-23 Nonnewaug student handbook. Depending on who you ask, some feel positive about the change while others find it negative.

Some NHS students find current attendance policies difficult to follow. Some students feel like the policies are restrictive or that students are getting absences for the wrong reasons. 

On the other side of the spectrum, teachers and administrators support these new attendance policies because they ensure order in the school’s office and encourage more time in class which leads to a lot of benefits with learning.

The student handbook goes in-depth regarding NHS  attendance policies. There are only a small number of reasons students’ absences could be exempt. Only a doctor’s note or other forms of verification like funeral cards, DMV paperwork or field trips can make absences exempt. Verified absences are absences that were verified by parents calling and letting the school know that their kid is absent. 

Unfortunately for students, the verified absences count towards loss of credit. Loss of credit is the concept that a certain amount of absences in a class will count towards loss of credit from that class, even if you have good grades, due to missing class time. Students lose credit if they accumulate 10 absences for single-semester courses and 20 for full-year courses. 

Students could argue that the attendance policy actually makes students’ attendance worse, even if they are responsible and good students. Many students, and especially seniors, feel like some of these policies lack flexibility. 

 “I don’t like it because they can’t miss classes even if they are doing exceptionally well in the class,” said Niko Tsamos, a senior. “Students who are doing well should have the freedom to miss classes without losing credit. That’s how it is in college.”

The NHS Office is where students sign-in when late. (Brian Root)

This brings up an interesting point where, as said by many, high school actually prepares students for college. So why doesn’t it incorporate the same attendance policies for seniors as the way the college attendance functions? 

A lot of seniors also pick up jobs and have a lot going on beyond the classroom so it would be almost natural for them to sometimes skip classes due to exhaustion and stress especially with work, homework, sports, and other responsibilities.

“I don’t think the policies are too harsh although, I feel students who may be late to school due to oversleeping should count as an excused absence due to the stress levels of the average high-schooler,” said Peyton Sagendorf, a Nonnewaug senior. “Oversleeping should not be seen as an absence but excused.” 

NHS is helping its students the best they can. While it’s only for study halls, NHS has incorporated a system for senior students with first and last period study halls. This system allows them to come late and leave early with the proper form filled out. 

This benefits the students and gives them more freedom and helps them have an easier time dealing with the problems of being a senior: college planning, work, homework, sports, and stress.

Some students simply don’t understand verified absence rules. This is because when students get sick one day, and it’s not a serious illness but still would get in the way of learning at school, they have to resort to only one solution, which would be having their parent or guardian call them out thus receiving a verified absence. This still counts as a loss towards credit. 

Many students’ parents don’t see making a doctor’s appointment or emailing them necessary for a common cold. Therefore, the student can’t get a legitimate excused absence that doesn’t count towards losing credit.

While this policy has some debatable elements, it still has a lot of reasons and justifications for being this way. Marty Malaspina, a NHS math teacher, supports the current system. 

“What’s stopping a student from using verified absences 50 times a year to get out of class,” Malaspina said when asked if verified absences should count towards a loss of credit.

Another point the school makes is that the students’ safety is their responsibility, even if the student isn’t on campus — by law, students are supposed to be at school. 

“We can’t ensure the students’ safety if they aren’t here. If the students have to come to school we can at least check in on them,” said assistant principal Nicole Lewis. “The policy also helps keep students academically strong because the students have to be in class to get directions for classwork.”

In the end, Nonnewaug’s attendance policy is “intended to promote student learning,” as stated in the handbook. While a lot of students may not agree or like some parts of the policy, it was designed to help students and keep everything orderly in the school and its environment.