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Opinion: The new attendance policy is stressful and unfair, yet may motivate some to participate more

On Sept. 9, students received an email about a new attendance code set by RUHS. The new code is an “N,” which is given to students who attend class and are “present,” but are not actively engaged and completing in-class assignments.

Online school is, and can be very difficult for many students, especially those with distractions at home and poor technology. Teachers actively encourage students to keep cameras on and participate in class as much as possible, but for those with a lot of background noise or poor Wifi-connections, participating can be quite a struggle.

The new attendance code is quite unfair because it can affect many students who try to participate in class, but are unable to because of reasons beyond their control. Background noise, bad cameras, and poor Wi-Fi connections are just a few of the things students deal with that they cannot necessarily fix. Some students are fortunate enough to have good-quality technology and quiet households, where they can actively unmute and participate in class discussions. However, a lot of students don’t have those resources, and there’s not much they can do about it. Adding a code that can unfairly target those students can definitely add extra stress and pressure to what they could already be dealing with.

According to the RUHS Admin, “There is no negative consequence for the mark, but it certainly indicates that a low grade in that class is likely.” 

Grades reflect a student’s hard-work and participation in class. The addition of an attendance letter can serve as a good warning for many students, but many others could ignore it as it leaves no consequences. If a student sees a poor grade, they may be more likely to fix it than if they saw an “N” mark on their attendance. 

During in-person learning, teachers have a much better way of tracking students’ grades and participation than during online school. Due to this, it makes sense that the school would try to add extra ways to help teachers track students’ performance and participation in class. However, adding an impractical attendance mark with no consequences to the attendance code will have a smaller effect on students than a bad grade. The mark can also negatively impact students with household and technology issues, adding to the stress already given by online school and COVID-19. In general, the mark can positively influence a few students to improve their participation, but will ultimately not have as big of an impact as a bad grade.