McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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Opinion | The new attendance policy could be more harmful than helpful

MCHS presents a new attendance policy that requires students to meet a 90% or higher attendance rate, or risk losing privileges to prom, parking, and open lunch  
Sophomore+class+of+2026+sits+in+the+auditorium+for+a+mandatory+AIM+meeting+discussing+new+attendance+policy+for+the+spring+semester++
Paulina Borowski
Sophomore class of 2026 sits in the auditorium for a mandatory AIM meeting discussing new attendance policy for the spring semester

Students sit in the MCHS auditorium as a presentation is projected before them. It states that if they do not maintain a 90% attendance rate, prom, parking passes, and open lunch privileges could hang in the balance. A rumble falls over the crowd as a lone student stands and says, “Do you not think this is unfair?” to the applause of the students in attendance. 

With the second semester of the 2023-2024 school year upon us, MCHS has presented a new attendance policy to its students. Simply put, if any individual student does not retain a 90% attendance or higher, they risk losing their privilege to parking passes, open lunch, and most controversially: attending prom. 

This policy was presented to juniors and seniors between Jan. 10-22, with administration leading the presentation saying, in so many words, “this is for your own good.” Reasons cited within the presentation include avoiding loss of funding due to lack of attendance, and preventing subsequent raising of prices for things like parking. 

The issue that MCHS is attempting to fight is a nation wide one. An epidemic of absenteeism has swept the country in the post COVID era. As highlighted in an article by PBS, there are many reasons and many ways different districts are handling the situation. It highlights the support and good intentions that schools are trying to display by aiding their students in the attendance crisis. 

However, students did not react to this new policy with gratitude for a few key reasons. Firstly, this presentation was given weeks into the semester (including asynchronous days.) The delay of this announcement could have led to students unknowingly racking up absences without being aware of the possible consequences. 

Most confusingly, any absence, including excused absences, count against your attendance. Meaning even college visits, field trips, sick days, mental health days, and any vacation the student has no choice in count against them. The only exception to the rule is if the student provides a doctor’s notice. 

The reaction within the second junior assembly was particularly volatile, with students asking passive aggressive questions, confronting the administrators on stage and accusing the policy of being unfair and unrealistic. One student received a round of applause from the crowd after claiming the policy was unreasonable. 

This policy may be counter-productive. At face value, many students are pointing out that prom ticket sales could be affected, but there could be worse consequences. Students who fail to meet this unrealistic benchmark could be prevented from parking passes, which could lead to them showing up to school late and gathering MORE absences. Students who dip under 90%, after getting their privileges taken away may stop caring about improving it and shift in the direction of truancy even harder than they did before. 

Prom ticket sales are the least of MCHS’s worries, as it seems the attendance policy that has students up in arms is destined to do far more harm than good.

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