Tardy Policy Enforcement Generates Varied Responses

Returning to school after winter break, tardy students met a stricter greeting than they were familiar with. While the procedure of going to the office to fill out a tardy slip remained the same, students began to hear of a new tardy policy; this news traveled quickly. This was just poor wording, as the current policy has, in reality, been in place the entire school year. However, after harsher greetings at the door, and announcements indicating to teachers that they must be reprimanding students for late arrivals, students and teachers alike came to the agreement that things had changed.

Under this policy, students will be given a lunch detention on their 4th tardy, and will be given an additional lunch detention for each tardy thereafter. “Students with 5 or more unexcused absences in a semester or more than 6 tardies to TIGER Period will have their parking privileges revoked for a 2 week period. If another Tardy occurs, driving privileges will be revoked for the remainder of the semester with no financial refund for a parking pass.” The Student Handbook reads.

Many students took a negative stance on this trend. “I’m not sure what the point is. Like they’d say it’s to promote a life skill we’ll need later or because it’s disruptive, but that’s not what it’s doing.” Caleb articulated. “Yeah, maybe some students will make more of an effort now, but it’s driving away others from coming at all. We live in a place where you’d like to see people you wouldn’t expect to have some success, and they’re getting punished for showing up to school during announcements. No one’s even teaching then. Now they’re probably going to skip first block, if not the whole day, because they don’t feel like getting yelled at first thing in the morning.”

As other students pointed out, many of the 16, 17, and 18 year olds aren’t exactly drowning in cash. A parking pass is 50 dollars, which for a lot of people isn’t disposable.

“If you ask about any person why they’re late it’ll be because of waking up. A lot of kids have responsibilities at home, sports, studying and homework.” Alyson, a student at Elkins High points out. “Then they have to wake up before the crack of dawn. If they’re late too many times because of something in direct effect of the school, they will be punished in a way that prevents them from coming. If they take the bus, they have to wake up earlier. And that’s the issue to begin with.” Alyson reflected.

A study analyzed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine showed risks posed towards students who woke up earlier for school. “Results show that the weekday crash rate for teen drivers during the 2009 to 2010 school year was about 29 percent higher in Chesterfield County, Va., where high school classes began at 7:20 a.m., than in adjacent Henrico County, Va., where classes started at 8:45 a.m.” A similar result occurred the following year, with no parallels existing for adults.

Another study, conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center, suggests another problem is created by high schoolers waking up early. “The results showed that good baseline sleep hygiene was directly associated with lower average daily depressive/anxiety symptoms across all students, and the levels were even lower in students with school start times after 8:30.” Christine Ross explains in her research article. “However, students with good baseline sleep hygiene and earlier school start times had higher average daily depressive/anxiety symptoms.”

The point of waking up early and learning timeliness is supposed to teach us to function like adults. While students are not able to function like adults, they are preparing to be. Is it more important for students to face consequences before they reach adulthood?

“We had an excessive amount– and when I’m talking excessive amount– like 30 to 40 students everyday that were being tardy,” Assistant Principal Rayfield explained. “The rules are in place, and really what we’re trying to do is teach life lessons. Right? You need to be in class, just like if you have a job you need to be at work at certain times. I don’t know that it’s a strict enforcement, it’s just that we’re trying to follow the policy and make it fair and consistent for everybody.”

Teens with earlier school start times have higher crash rates