by Grace Young

It’s no secret that attendance requirements are strictly enforced at Guilford High School. Come the end of the year, absences are racked up, and students are stressed out. 

Mind you, it is no fault of the school district that the attendance policy leaves no “wiggle room” for students; Connecticut state law only provides nine unexcused absences (per class) to the student, with the tenth absence being the terminus, and reason for loss of credit. 

The valid reasons for an excused absence include the following: 

“Death of a Love One” 

“Observance of a Religious Holiday” 

“Emergency Beyond the Control of the Student’s Family” 

“Mandated Court Appearances” 

“Student Illness” (to be cleared by a doctor)

“Lack of Transportation that is Normally Provided by the District” 

Students, more specifically, the Junior and Senior Classes, should receive more leniency when it comes to absences pertaining to college. The final years of high school are packed full of college tours, orientations, and meetings. It certainly does not help that many of the available college tour dates fall during the week or during a college break (inconveniently, the timeline of the college school year does not line up with that of public high schools). Students are forced to visit colleges on weekdays, schooldays, and are marked absent for such reasons. Students must ration the ten days that they are given, ultimately resulting in stress. The college tour is pointless should the student lose credit in their high school courses. The list of valid reasons for an “excused absence” does not include, “College Tour,” “College Orientation,” or “Planning My Academic Future.” 

So, why should students be penalized for something that they cannot control?

There is one reason (not listed above) by which a student can achieve an excused absence for educational reasons: “Extraordinary Educational Opportunities.” The Connecticut State Department of Education categorizes this as an “…[event] that may not be part of their schoolwork, [but provides] an excellent chance to further [the student’s] education” (CSDE). The Board of Education then proceeds to exemplify this with, “meeting the President of the United States” or “a behind the scenes tour of the Kennedy Space Center.” If a “tour” of the Kennedy Space Center qualifies a student for an excused absence, why can’t a tour of UCONN? 

College tours are a vital part of a student’s career, the opportunity to visit a college being as rare for some as an opportunity to meet the President of the United States. Why should a student be marked as “absent” for spending a day at a school that may not (yet) be theirs? If anything, students should be given a number of days by the CSDE for the sole purpose of visiting and learning everything there is to know about the school that will foster the next four years of their lives. It is completely relevant that touring a university is academically related, and for nothing more than educational purposes. 

So, why should students be penalized for planning their academic futures?