Is The Attendance Policy Too Strict?

Mya Pratt and Morgan Ruebel, Journalist

Many students have trouble getting up for school on a daily basis, which causes them to either be tardy or absent. Then, these students are getting detention for the amount of tardies they’ve used or even a failing grade due to the amount of classes they’ve missed. This raises a question: Is the attendance policy too strict at Ipswich High School? 

Here at Ipswich High School, the rules are very black and white. Students must be in their first class no later than 7:45 am, otherwise, they are tardy. If a student accumulates more than 5 tardies in a quarter, said student will have an office detention every time they are late moving forward. Being present in the building is required everyday. If a student has missed five or more school days (unexcused), Mr. Mitchell will meet with that student and their parent/guardian to discuss the problem. Due to the absences, students will receive a failing grade of a 64% if the student has missed 4 or more class meeting times. If the student’s grade was originally lower, the student receives the lower grade.  

We decided to look at the surrounding schools and see if their attendance policy was as strict as ours. We found that the policy at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School was almost the same. Any student who is absent more than 14 times from a year long class or more than 7 times for a semester class will not receive credit for that course. Any student who misses a class without an acceptable excuse will receive 4 after-school detentions and will be unable to attend extracurriculars for one week. The tardiness protocol remains the same.  

Having perfect attendance is something that is hard for high school students to accomplish. Sometimes we all just need a break, are having mental health struggles, or just want to catch up on sleep. Pressing snooze on our alarm clocks is extremely tempting. To get a high school student’s take on the issue, we decided to interview Phillip Gauthier (’23) regarding his feelings about the attendance policy. Phillip says, “I personally feel like the attendance policy is too strict. Some kids have trouble waking up or figuring out rides to school; it causes an extra amount of stress that just makes us want to stay home.” Although it is tough for some to meet the school’s attendance requirements, we decided to ask Phillip if he thought there were any specific benefits. “I think being present in school everyday is very important. When you miss a lot of school, you also miss a lot of learning, which means you have a lot to make up, and it is extremely difficult.” He replied. 

To examine the issue from a school administrator’s perspective, we decided to interview our principal, Mr. Mitchell, who makes sure IHS students are following these rules. “It’s strict, yes, but as long as students have a doctor’s note or a legit reason for an absence, then it doesn’t count toward the 3 missed for class,” said Mr. Mitchell. “The policy is to try to get kids to come to school so they don’t get behind. I’ve found that in my experience, if kids are out a lot, it tends to kind of just snowball, so it’s harder and harder for them to make up the work.”

After looking further into the attendance policy and talking to a couple people about the issue, we as high school students think that with everything we have going on, we just want to stay in bed. The attendance policy is in place to make us the best students possible and get ahead of our work rather than behind. After talking to Mr. Mitchell, we felt reassured that at the end of the day, the rules are in place to look after us as students, not to torture Ipswich youths.