Tardy policy needs more uniformity

March 27, 2024 — by Florence Wei
Photo by Amelia Chang
With an unclear tardy policy, the fate of a student is almost completely at the mercy of the teacher.

Before the first school bell rings each weekday, students file into the classroom one after another. After the initial wave has run its course, a  second string of students swarm in — often several minutes after school begins. 

Some are marked tardy; others are not. The policy for short tardies varies immensely between classes. Some teachers mark anyone who walks through the door seconds past the bell as late while others have a grace period of 10 minutes or more. 

The tardy system should ensure everyone makes an effort to go to school on-time; however, too often there are discrepancies for enforcements of tardy policies. These inconsistencies regarding tardy policy make each morning a confusing mess, with the line between on time and late blurred. The school should have one uniform rule that standardizes tardies to a maximum 5-minute tardy grace for all classes, no exceptions. 

The school’s tardy policy is now split between two categories: normal and excessive. Tardies over 30 minutes are marked as unexcused absences, which count toward disciplinary consequences such as Treasure Toga, a required community service requirement on occasional Blue Day afternoons that discourages students from being late to class. If a student is tardy more than 5 times, they are given a Treasure Toga.

This, however, doesn’t address the more common issue of simply being less than 5 minutes late to class.

America’s Compulsory Attendance Laws were implemented in 1874 to ensure each student remained in school and received an education. Schools use tardies to dissuade students from missing necessary class minutes. Perpetually late students will often delay the class by causing distractions. 

At SHS, it sometimes feels as if tardies don’t measure if a student is late, but rather if they have a stricter teacher or one that doesn’t even mark tardies. Even though being tardy does not equate to being absent, it is often treated as such by stricter teachers. 

The meaning of going to class on time is to make sure to absorb necessary information from the beginning of the period. It is important that all the 90 minutes of class are used effectively for better learning.

A 5-minute grace period is enough. It gives students leeway if something slows them down in the morning, but ensures they also arrive at school relatively on time. With this policy, there will be no excuse if one is later than five minutes to school. If this change is made, the tardy count needed to get Treasure Toga can probably be decreased to around two or three offenses. This would make sure students don’t take advantage of a more lenient system. 

Though different teachers view tardies differently, the system is a mess when it comes to enforcement. Instituting a uniform policy for leniency makes a lot of sense.

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