Mr. Hansen’s Absence and Tardiness Policies

Legitimate reasons for missing class include emergencies, field trips, school-sponsored sporting events, school-sponsored retreats, and meetings with college representatives. In addition, Form VI students with a passing average may “cut” class once per semester in accordance with school policy.

In the list below, I distinguish between emergencies and planned absences. Rules #1 through #5 are essentially a paraphrase of the student handbook, Sections I.D.7, I.F.1, III.H.8, and IX.F.2. The other rules (#6 through #14) refer to areas in which teachers set their own policies.

General School Rules (Paraphrased)

1. Emergencies (illness, funeral, unusual traffic situation, etc.): On each day that you are absent, your parents must call Ms. Spaulding at (202) 537-6412 by 8:00 a.m. For illnesses longer than a few days, a written statement from your doctor may be required. For emergency absences, there is no need to notify me, since I will receive a list from Ms. Spaulding. During your absence, please check assignments on the onCampus system in order to stay as up-to-date as possible.

2. Planned absences or early departures (school notification): Again, your parents must notify Ms. Spaulding by 8:00 a.m. There are a few exceptions (school sports, field trips, and Form VI cuts) for which your parents need not call Ms. Spaulding, since your teachers will already be informing her.

3. Planned absences (teacher notification): All of your teachers would appreciate it if you notify them in advance of any class periods that you are planning to miss. I have taken this one step further by requiring advance notice by email of at least 48 hours (24 hours for seniors) so that I can adjust your test and quiz schedule if necessary. I will probably forget if you tell me in the hall, but email guarantees that both you and I have a written record with a timestamp. Be sure to put a double underscore (__) at the beginning of your subject line so that it will catch my attention and dodge the spam filter. See #8 for additional details.

4. More information about planned absences: Medical and dental appointments should not be scheduled during school hours unless there is no other option. Family vacations during school days are discouraged and should be cleared far in advance with the Head of Upper School. Please note, even if the Head of Upper School approves of such a vacation, teachers are not required to offer make-up work or to make special accommodations for you. (The reality is that most teachers will try to be helpful, but you should keep in mind that any make-up work they offer you is a favor to you, not something they are required to do.) “Bridging over” into breaks is particularly discouraged, since St. Albans already provides ample time off, including a two-week spring break, during which your family can travel together. Form VI: You are encouraged to use the long Columbus Day weekend in October and the long first weekend of November for your college trips. Other college trips and meetings with college representatives must be reported in advance. Be sure that Ms. Spaulding (202-537-6412) is informed of all trips, and use the college meeting sign-up sheets provided by Ms. Stratton and Ms. Magaziner Mills.

5. Other absences: If you are absent for a mysterious/unknown reason, I will report you to the Dean of Students as being unexcused. Therefore, it is extremely important that your parents notify Ms. Spaulding. Penalties for a first offense are fairly mild (perhaps a Saturday morning work detail in addition to the point penalty described in #11 below), but repeated offenses can result in suspension or expulsion.

Policies Unique to Mr. Hansen

6. (Seniors only) Exception to policy #5 for Form VI: If you are absent for a mysterious/unknown reason, I will initially report you to the dean. However, if you still have a cut that you can use, I will apply the cut so that you will not receive any punishment. You will then have no more cuts remaining in the semester.

7. Make-up work: For emergency absences, my policy is a grace period of one school day for each class day missed. (Note that under the 7-day rotating schedule instituted in 2013, school days and class days are different. A regular week, Monday through Friday, has 5 school days but only 3 or 4 class days.) For example, you would have 3 school days to get caught up after an illness that caused you to miss 3 days of the class that you have with me. I may grant extensions on a case-by-case basis.

8. Advance work: For any non-emergency absence, you need to do your work in advance. For example, if you go on a field trip, or if you are in Form VI and take a cut or a college trip on a certain day, then you will earn a zero for any test or quiz given on that day unless you have already made arrangements with me at least 48 hours in advance (24 hours for seniors). Email is the method of notification that I require, since that way we will both have a record. Be sure to put double underscore (__) at the beginning of your subject line so that it will catch my attention and dodge the spam filter. More than 48 hours’ notice is desirable, since the scheduling of a make-up test or quiz on short notice may require a nonstandard version, e.g., an oral examination. If you do not give a full 48 hours’ notice of a planned absence, or if you forget to inform me by email, I will try to accommodate you, but if I cannot, you may have to take a zero. Even if there is no test or quiz on the day you are missing, you are required to turn in your homework or other assignments on time. Reason: This is a planned absence we’re talking about. It is not fair to your classmates if you get an extension. In certain circumstances, I may grant extensions, or I may accept some of the work before you leave and the rest after you return, but you should never assume that this is the case. By default, any homework, quiz, or test that you miss will be a zero.

9. Gray areas: With respect to make-ups, not all absences fall neatly into a category of “emergency” or “planned.” For example, the chorale may be asked on a Thursday to sing at a funeral service the next day. If you are in the chorale and have a test scheduled for Friday, would you have to take the test on Thursday during office hours, or would you be entitled to take it the following Monday? Situations like this need to be settled on a case-by-case basis. Here, requiring you to take a make-up test before or after school on Friday seems like a compromise that is fair both to you and to the other students.

10. Points that cannot be made up: Some points cannot be made up, even if you have a valid excuse. Examples include class participation bonuses, class-wide bonuses if I am late, pop quizzes, equipment checks, and typographical errors. (I customarily award half a point to the first student to spot a minor typographical error, or 1 point if the error has some mathematical significance.) In the cases of quizzes and equipment checks, I generally drop the lowest 2 or 3 scores for the quarter, which means that a few zeros will not count against you. I may make an exception if you have a long-term illness or another reason that causes you to miss a great number of classes.

11. Tardiness (unexcused): There is a penalty of 1 point for each minute of unexcused tardiness. Beware, that means that an unexcused absence for a full period equals a 65-point penalty in addition to any other disciplinary consequences that you may receive. Turnabout is fair play: If I am late to class for a non-emergency reason and do not bring a note from a teacher or an administrator, then each minute or fraction counts as a bonus point for the people who are quietly waiting before I arrive. “Cell phone peloton pricing” applies: for example, a minute and 15 seconds counts as 2 points, and everyone who arrives in the same cluster (peloton) receives the same time. That means that you do not need to run to beat me to class, since we will both have the same recorded time. If you and I are in the same cluster, and if I am late, then you receive neither a penalty nor a bonus. Because almost everyone will occasionally be late for unavoidable reasons, you can miss up to 10 minutes per quarter without penalty. (I accomplish this by adding a 10-point bonus for everyone each quarter.) Since there are several hundred points possible in each quarter, an occasional minute or two of tardiness will not affect your grade at all.

12. Tardiness (excused): The thing to remember is that unlike emergency absences, which can sometimes be cleared up after the fact, tardiness counts against you whenever you forget to bring a note. (Exceptions: Students coming from a class at NCS are allowed 5 extra minutes, and tardiness for the first period of the day can be excused either with a note or with a parent phone call before 8:00.) The note must state the date and time and must be signed by a faculty member or one of your parents. If the note is for more than one student, all names must be listed on the note. Please do not ever show up late to class and ask, “Oh, should I have brought a note?” The answer is always yes, but I won’t send you out again to get your note. Go ahead and take a seat quietly, minimizing the disruption to the class, and accept your penalty points gracefully.

        I reserve the right to reject a note if, in my judgment, the tardiness is unwarranted or key information is missing. Also, trying to pass a forged note or a note written on a previous day would count as an honor code offense, and believe me, you don’t want to deal with that. I take an aggressive stance about bringing cases before the Honor Council. Don’t ever ask, “Mr. Hansen, can’t you just give me a warning?” You are receiving your warning right now.

13. Traffic: Washington traffic, though slow, is usually quite predictable. I do not consider tardiness to be excused if you are stuck on, say, Wisconsin Ave. southbound, because there has been a traffic jam there every weekday morning for as long as I can remember. However, if you encounter a truly unusual traffic jam that makes you late, then bring a note signed by a parent, or have your parents call Ms. Spaulding before 8:00. If you show up late to class, the normal rules apply. To clarify, that means that if you appear without a note, and if your parents do not call Ms. Spaulding’s office by 8:00 (but they do call later in the day to explain), then your tardiness is unexcused. You are responsible for bringing a note.

14. Strategies for avoiding tardiness: We go by U.S. Naval Observatory time, which matches the two wall clocks in the refectory or the clock in our room, all of which are accurate to within a few seconds. In the event of a discrepancy, we always use USNO time. As for the problem of moving between classes in less than 5 minutes, one strategy (not recommended) would be to start putting away your books and papers 2 or 3 minutes before the end of your previous class. Please don’t do this, because it is disrespectful to your teacher. However, if the class runs long, you should request a note. If the teacher habitually runs overtime, consider preparing a stack of notes reading, “Please excuse [write your name here] for being late on [date]. He left my room at [time]. Thank you.” Then simply ask your teacher to sign the note. That way, you’ll never lose any points for tardiness, and you’re actually being helpful to your teacher, since all he or she needs to do is to sign the note.

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Last updated: 20 Jan 2018