Bellevue West introduces a new tardy policy

Gnally Boukar, Co-EIC

interview: senior chase van breisen 

What are your impressions of the new tardy policy?/How has the tardy policy personally affected you? 

“I hate it like so far the only way it tends to affect me is A days first period. Because with A days first period, I uh, well the first day of school after getting back first semester I had changed classes my first period, so I was going to my new first period in the science wing and I could not find it then the bell rang and… I saw all the doors shut and it was terrible.” 

What would you say to an administrator about the new tardy policy? 

“I think for one we shouldn’t count tardies for like first periods in the first place because a first period class its not even based on the student running late cause half of the school population, well roughly half, cant drive you know because freshmen and sophomores, unless they have a school permit, they just can’t drive. So then its out of their control if they’re like on time, or a lot less on their hands. I’m sure they can still wander the hallways but still there’s a chunk of the school, who it’s out of their hands if they get to school on time and I dont think it benefits really anyone. Especially with covid, how were grouping like all these people together in one area when the whole point of the masks and then like having people out of the halls unless you have a pass is to prohibit covid spread. And the first day back enforcing a tardy policy… I guarantee you im not the only one who has been late looking for their class.” 

interview: 

interview: principal kevin rohlfs 

What is the new tardy policy? 

“The new tardy policy was mainly put in place to help teachers with lesson interruptions to start the day. It’s just the first block on A and B days. When the bell rings at 7:50 we ask teachers to lock their doors so that everybody that is tardy either has to go to the library if theyre upstairs or if they come in the front door we stop them in the cafeteria and we just give them a pass. We register the tardy for the teacher right there and then Doris will put it into the system. Basically just takes that distraction off the teacher’s plate so they can start their day.” 

How long will the new tardy policy last?

“We are planning on leaving it in place and its working. Our tardies for first block have dropped almost in half since we started this at the beginning of the semester. So it appears to be working. The students that are chronically late continue to be chronically late, but those that were showing up late because nobody was really keeping track of it, a lot of those have decided now ‘oh i gotta get to school on time.’ So weve seen some good improvements, and we’ll stay with it as long as we feel its working.”

Some students have raised concerns about the time wasted waiting in the library, what would be your response to that? 

“The first couple days it took us awhile to streamline the process. Now, nobody is waiting in line more than a couple of minutes. Monday of this week we had a little bit bigger line, so we realized Monday after a three or four day weekend that we maybe need to have a little more staff on hand 

  • Half of the student body cannot drive 
  • Increases amount of time it takes to get to class (tardiness)
  • It is not realistically preparing us for the workforce 

Interview: Mary Sasek 

Sitting in the library at 7:52, you might be confused why two long lines of students are waiting out the door. But it’s not anticipation over new books: the students are waiting to get a tardy pass. 

A new tardy protocol has been introduced at Bellevue West: Students who arrive after the 7:50 bell during the first block are now directed to the library and cafeteria for a tardy pass. Teachers are responsible for locking their doors and ensuring students are sent to get a tardy pass.   

Assistant principal  Mary Sasek said the new protocol is in response to a high number of tardies to the first blocks of each day Sasek emphasized punctuality as an important life skill students need to learn. 

“What we have realized this year is that we have a lot more students who are tardy to first hour than most any other hour,” Sasek said. “And we know that whether it’s first block on A days or second block on B days, that it’s an important life skill.”

The new tardy policy reduces stress on teachers. According to principal Kevin Rohlfs, the new tardy policy is to help limit interruptions in the morning and eliminate the added task for teachers trying to start class. 

“Basically just takes that distraction off the teacher’s plate so they can start their day,” Rohlfs said.

However, not all students were as thrilled by the tardy policy. 

Senior Chase Van Briesen said introducing a tardy policy the first day back from a break was a horrible idea. The semester change left several students with new first-period classes. Van Briesen said it can be difficult to acclimate to finding a new class. 

There is also the constant worry about the pandemic in the back of our minds. Van Briesen highlighted the current dangers of keeping such a high concentration of kids in one area. 

“We’re grouping like all these people together in one area when the whole point of the masks and then like not having people out of the halls unless you have a pass is to prohibit COVID-19 spread,” Van Briesen said. 

Tardies to the first block are not always the fault of the student counted tardy. Rides from siblings, relatives, or friends impact when a student arrives at school.Van Briesen said his main critique of the tardy policy was its unfairness to students who may not be directly responsible for their rides to school.  

“Half of the school population, well roughly half, can’t drive you know because freshmen and sophomores, unless they have a school permit, they just can’t drive,” Van Briesen said. “So then its out of their control if they’re like on time, or a lot less on their hands.”

Sasek and Rohlfs both said the new protocol has already reduced tardies. However, Sasek said only after an evaluation of data they will be able to determine if the new protocol is a permanent change.

“I will say that we’re really working on looking at data to help us make decisions for what’s good for our students,” Sasek said. “So if we look, after a month or so, or at the end of the year, whenever we decide we’re going to measure our data, we’re going to look at that spreadsheet.”