DHS Enacts New Attendance and Free Period Policies

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Neirad staff

In an effort to build community and increase classroom attendance, DHS has made changes to some of its policies this year.

Charlotte Ward, Editor-In-Chief

With a new school year comes new changes. No more masks or six-feet-apart rules pave the way for new policies enacted by the Darien High School administration.

For the past two years, DHS had an “open ends” policy in place. This meant that seniors had the ability to leave the campus for lunch if they had the entire third block free. All grades could come to school late or leave school early if they had first or last block free.

Now, all grades are allowed to come in late if they have first block free, but only seniors can leave early if they have last block free – the other grades are required to stay in school and can use the time to do homework or see a teacher. Seniors still have open-lunch privileges if they have the entire third block free.┬áCampus monitors are monitoring students much more heavily this year to make sure all students are abiding by these new rules.

Before the pandemic, seniors did not have these privileges – they were allowed to leave campus for lunch but had to stay in school for the duration of the day, and 9th-11th graders had no special campus privileges. Open ends were originally enacted at the start of the pandemic to limit COVID-19 contact points for students. Now, with the virus in a more manageable place, administration has kept some form of open ends as a privilege for students.

Please use open periods “to meet with a teacher, work with peers in the library, or spend some time with friends having breakfast in the cafeteria.”

— Principal Ms. Ellen Dunn

In an email to students and families, Principal Dunn discussed the new open ends policy. “As we move out of the pandemic phase of COVID, we want to take steps to reestablish our community and connection to one another at DHS,” she said. Mrs. Dunn went on to say that faculty and staff members do not want DHS to feel like a college campus, and encourage students to come into school even during open periods “to meet with a teacher, work with peers in the library, or spend some time with friends having breakfast in the cafeteria.”

Perhaps the more controversial of new DHS policies this year is a new attendance policy. Due to an uptick in cutting last year (specifically in gym and health classes) and the length of block schedule periods, the school’s absence policy has been altered.

According to the Student Handbook, “students are required to attend all scheduled classes, and course credit will be withheld due to excessive absences.” Constant absences impact a student’s learning.

For courses meeting 4 times in the 8-day rotation, 6 absences in one semester results in a loss of credit, and for science courses with labs meeting 6 times per rotation, 9 absences in one semester will result in a loss of credit. For seniors participating in a second semester internship, the number of absences allowed in one semester before a loss of credit decreases by one depending on the number of times that course meets in the 8-day rotation. Both excused and unexcused absences count towards this policy, and school absences (absences required by DHS) are the only exception to this policy.

The administration hopes that with these new policies comes an era of connection and community at DHS this year.