In a year full of uncertainty, having clarity on policies and regulations is important. North Attleboro High School, now seven weeks into the school year, released some new policies on attendance that went into effect on October 19th.
According to the announcement published by the school on October 16th, the new policies include two changes to the attendance system.
First, if students are late for a Google Meet or leave the Meet early, it will be marked as “tardy” or “absent” in the Aspen grading portal. If a student doesn’t show up at all during the entire class period, it will be recorded as a “cut class.”
The second point, which created some confusion for students, applies when students in a hybrid cohort are scheduled to have in-person school on a particular day. If they are not able to attend in-person for whatever reason, they will need to call the school as usual to state that they will be attending school virtually for the day.
NAHS Principal Mr. Haviland said, “If you wake up in the morning and you have the sniffles and can’t taste your pancakes, you should be calling your doctor and staying home. Students with mild symptoms can connect remotely.”
Haviland said the school has been able to avoid any problems so far this year.
When the new attendance policy first came out, some students believed that logging in virtually would still count as an unexcused absence; however, Mr. Haviland clarified one point about that.
“If you’re attending virtually on a day where you should be in-person, you’ll be marked as absent,” said Haviland. “However, it’s a new ‘type’ of absence called ‘IAVP’.”
IAVP stands for “In-person Absent, Virtually Present.” Haviland stated this type of absence, as recorded in the Aspen grading portal, does not count against students, and does not count as an official absence for the quarter.
In a normal year, students are allowed to be absent from school due to a sickness, court-related situation, or a college visit. With proper documentation, all of these absences count as an excused absence.
Students still have the four absences per quarter, as per the school handbook. “The language in the handbook stands until the school committee approves something,” said Haviland. “However, no changes have been submitted to the school committee. The October 16th communication is more of a process than a policy.”
The reason for this new change, Haviland explained, is so the school can keep track of where students are.
Mrs. Bresson, a health teacher at NAHS, said, “[Attendance] hasn’t been a big problem, but there have been a few students here and there. Guidance has been in contact with the families, and I will say, the ones who need to be home, have been communicating if they can’t be there.”
It is very important that a parent calls the school to notify the administrative assistants that a student will be attending virtually when they were supposed to be in person. The reason for this, Mr. Haviland explains, is so the school is aware of students’ locations at all times, in case there is an emergency.
“We’re better able to resolve the issues when families communicate,” said Mr. Haviland.
Jack Callahan, a senior at NAHS, said, “We are in really crazy times right now and I am glad that the school is being very lenient and understanding of any reason a student cannot attend in-person school.”
The policies were introduced to prevent excessive student absences, all to keep students up to date and on track with their school work. Due to the nature of school this year, it’s easy for a student to fall through the cracks. Having clear attendance processes will help prevent students from falling behind in their classes.