How Not to Tackle Tardiness

Tessa Bowman

On one morning in late January, students braved the frigid weather that had prompted a 2-hour delay to get to their classes. After parking in the Chinquapin circle, I walked alongside a group of students down the sidewalk, rushing our pace as the piercing and unmistakable warning bell sounded. With the rotunda doors in just in sight, the late bell tolled at 8:35AM sharp, and the hall monitors swiftly drew in the doors, locking out incoming students.

Any students that came close to the Chinquipin doors were told to “go around,” or rather walk around the outside of the school to be admitted at Door 1 — on the opposite side of the building. Because of this, an original 30 second tardy resulted in a well-over 10 minute tardy. For a school that wants to increase the amount of time students spend in class, this “go around” or “Door 1” policy seems detrimental to their cause.

With nearly 4,000 students, the school faces difficulty with keeping track of all their students. As means to combat tardiness and the student “drifters” in the hallways in between classes, T.C. has ardently stuck to its rigid use of hall sweep detentions and this “Door 1” strategy. However, this approach doesn’t necessarily encourage or discourage tardiness — turning away students as they come to the door just makes them want to leave.

Another instance — after spending the morning sick — I drove to school midday and walked towards the Chinquapin doors with an excuse note in hand. As I approached the door, it started pouring rain. When I reached the nearest door, the hall monitor refused to even talk with me at first; ultimately opening the door only to dismiss me — once again hit with the infamous “go around.” So, I was left drenched out in the weather to walk around a building I could’ve easily cut through.

If T.C. wants students to come to class and especially increase the time they spend in class, then kids should be welcomed in at the door — any door. It seems like the “Door 1” policy is more punishment than anything else — which is understandable — but a punishment that proves ineffective because of its unnecessary and bothersome nature.

T.C. wants to deter students from being tardy, but it doesn’t make sense for students that have come to school to be turned away, resulting in them then having to walk around the entire building just to get admitted.

Door 1 is the designated point of entry seemingly because of its proximity to the attendance office — but mainly so late passes may be given out. These red slips of paper appear to be mobile, couldn’t they be given out at the other doors too? Just by admitting students at other doors and handing out late passes on the spot — additional tardiness to class may be avoided. Even if its a problem of school safety or security, why couldn’t kids just show their student IDs at the door to be let in?

The “go around” or “Door 1” policy in its essence is a waste of time and seems more like a pointless punishment — contributing to the very tardiness it means to combat.