APO attendance code grants students unprecedented freedom

In a world where logging onto Zoom five minutes after waking up counts as full attendance, the hybrid model has given students the best of both worlds: they can see friends and teachers in person twice a week while continuing to attend school in pajama bottoms three days a week. 

However, some students periodically choose to opt out of the in-person meet-and-greet by using the Absent In-Person Present Online (APO) attendance code option, meant for precautionary reasons to limit the spread of COVID-19. Although the APO option can only be used for up to ten consecutive days before a student must become a distance learner, it does not negatively impact attendance if used for under ten consecutive days. 

“[A] situation could arise when a student isn’t feeling well and stays home for precautionary reasons,” Karla Quinn, senior grade level assistant wrote in an email to seniors on Dec. 2. “A student is in quarantine due to possible exposure, or a family member is in self-quarantine due to exposure and the student stays home for precautionary reasons, a student went on a college visit to a state that is on the Travel Advisory List and must quarantine until having a negative PCR Covid test.”

While some students are using the APO option for its intended purposes, others are using this attendance code for personal convenience.

“I am working hard to keep up with school and I respect my teachers who are working hard to make school work for us,” an anonymous senior girl said, “so it is incredibly frustrating to hear friends complain about teachers actually making them ‘come to class’ on zoom when they could be sleeping and to hear peers say ‘test on Tuesday? Looks like I’m gonna be out that day.’”

However, the APO option does offer its own benefits. It reduces the risk of transmission in the school by decreasing building capacity and can also serve to benefit certain students’ learning styles. 

Infographic by Rachel Suggs ’21

“I don’t think there’s a problem with [the APO option],” Max Sod ’21 said. “Rather the contrary, since the APO option allows for students to learn in an environment they feel would best suit their academic growth.”

In addition, the frequent use of the APO option does not skew school data reported to the state. 

“[The] state put together a number of codes. We happen to be a district where we can live stream and we post assignments asynchronously and not all districts can do that,” Principal Stafford W. Thomas Jr. said. “The state is suggesting that if you have any symptoms of covid you stay home, that is all being reflected. The state keeps changing its codes, we’ll just keep following whatever changes they put in place.”

While there is still no incentive for students to avoid using the APO option for ten or less days, the school expectation is that they will be in person on their assigned cohort days. 

“This new attendance code was not created for students who want to take a day off from in-person learning, who want to sleep in, or who are looking to take an assessment online instead of in person,” Quinn wrote. “We expect and require advance notice by a parent/guardian if a student is not going to be present for any of the reasons above.”