Bellevue West introduces a new tardy policy

Gnally Boukar, Co-EIC

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.”