COVID-19 Affects New Attendance Policy at BHS

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Ella Vinklarek

Sophomore Ella Vinklarek takes notes from home during her Zoom Algebra II class. “I get distracted really easily because the teachers aren’t there to keep you in check,” said Vinklarek.

Aaron Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief

Wednesday, July 15, 2020, the Bastrop ISD school board and administration publicized the decision to begin the first three weeks of the 2020-2021 school year virtually. As teachers and students began the educational process on August 18, concerns about how attendance would be accounted for emerged.

Virtually, students are counted present by submitting an assignment in Google Classroom, maintaining a line of contact, or attending a Zoom meeting, whereas onsite students are counted present if they simply attend class in-person. 

Students are at risk of losing their credit from the first three weeks of school online. “What is leading students to lose credit right now is lack of participation which is leading to them not being counted present for attendance in their classes,” said Bastrop High attendance clerk, Lindsie Conti. According to the Texas Education Code, c. 25, s. 25.092, students must attend a minimum of 90% of all class hours to gain the class credit for any course. With Bastrop ISD’s schedule, the 90% equates to eight days a student can miss without losing credit per semester. All absences⏤excused and unexcused⏤count cumulatively to this 90%. 

If a student were to lose credit in this school year, credit recovery could look different from years past. “Onsite and online alike will have the opportunity to make up any hours owed through participation in Saturday schools and community service with proper documentation,” said Conti. “Saturday school will be held in the cafeteria so there will be plenty of room to social distance.” 

Documenting attendance seems to be another concern as teachers adjust to new attendance policies. “As most teachers can attest, taking attendance during virtual learning has been a challenge,” said English teacher Paula Rogish. Teachers try their best to count everyone present for their participation, but the process can be arbitrary taking up the majority of a conference period. “… we have to be vigilant about it,” said Rogish.

“Students being able to get attendance in five different ways has made it very difficult, and time-consuming to keep up with everyone’s attendance,” said math teacher Paige McGee. “Especially since the students have until 11:59 p.m. to turn things in to count for attendance purposes.” Online students are able to turn in assignments and warm-ups through Google Classroom throughout the day at their convenience. “Students have also struggled to understand the fact that turning an assignment in two days after it was due, counts for that day’s attendance and not the date of the assignment,” said McGee.

“It has gotten easier with time and repetition for me,” said McGee. Ultimately, as the year progresses, and more students start coming back to BHS in-person, the hope is that these problems will start to fade out.