Time is Not on Our Side

Students race against the clock and administration to keep their exemptions this year


Sophie Porter

Students all over Dowling Catholic struggle to keep their exemptions.

Sophie Porter, Staff Writer

The issue of attendance is a tale as old as time. Last year, the pandemic eased absence and tardy requirements, but administration has been eager to get back on track for the 2021-22 school year. Suddenly, attendance summaries have become incredibly strict with the exception of COVID-19 related absences. 


If you have any surgeries, injuries, or happen to get really sick, though, you are out of luck! After thirty-five absences, your exemptions disappear into nothingness. For seniors, stakes are even higher with four exemptions on the line. 


Noelle Gallagher (12) suffered a concussion relatively early into her cheer season. This rendered her unable to go to school or really do anything that required more than getting out of bed. The amount of absences Gallagher accumulated almost left her unable to be exempt.


“I didn’t fully return to school for three weeks, and during that time, I had full and partial days at home due to my doctor’s recommendations and return to learn plan,” Gallagher said.


Gallagher was then placed in a position where she had to scramble to learn everything from the weeks she missed while keeping up on current schoolwork. Though Gallagher did not lose her exemptions, the attendance rule forces other students facing similar situations to take finals for classes even with the massive gaps in their learning. 


“I don’t believe that the current thirty-five absence rule is fair because many people are not able to come to school for medical reasons such as brain injuries, hospital stays, or surgeries. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to take away someone’s exemptions for reasons out of their control,” Gallagher said.


Prime Time, Dowling’s study period, has also created a lot of problems regarding attendance. With teachers requesting different students, students signing up for mass, peer tutoring, and seniors going to the auditorium or cafeteria, Prime Time can get pretty chaotic. Teachers and students alike have different schedules day-to-day during the free period, so confusion remains a constant state of mind.


Maddy Hall (12) was counted absent for a Prime Time that she actually attended in the cafeteria. Later on, she was called into the attendance office and had to search the cafeteria’s camera footage in order to prove her innocence and keep her exemptions.


“Once I found the back of my head on the cameras, they rolled the footage until my face turned and it was clear that it was me. To this day, I still get called into the attendance office with false allegations and undeserved skips,” Hall said.


Despite this, Hall does empathize with administration. She understands that attendance, especially during Prime Time, can be a finicky system due to the large number of students it attempts to cover, but Hall has a solution that may help fix the imperfect practice.


“From what I’ve seen and heard, the attendance spreadsheet doesn’t seem to work very well. First, the scanners in the cafeteria were malfunctioning, and even after that was fixed, there are still issues. The spreadsheet often doesn’t work and is slow to load, and the attendance comes on the overhead speaker nearly everyday to get attendance recorded. In my opinion, the spreadsheet needs to go and be replaced with something more effective, whatever that may be,” Hall said.


Moral of the story: Attendance needs to be workshopped. Let’s hope that the administration comes up with an effective fix in the near future.