Eligibility Plan Impacts Fremont

Fremont has implemented a new eligibility plan for all students participating in extracurriculars in and out of season.
The plan is brand new this semester. Here are the facts: when it comes to extracurricular activities, clubs, and sports, students are put on probation when they’re either absent or tardy twice to a single class before being flagged. The line between tardy and absent is drawn at 15 minutes. Students are also flagged for having two F’s. Probation means students are put on a list after being flagged, where they will be reminded to fix their grades.
After getting put on probation, students have 1 week at the end of each eligibility period to improve their grades or make up attendance through two hours of community service to the school. Service is usually picking up the parking lot or assisting teachers after school. If students don’t make up their attendance credit or grades, they won’t be allowed to compete in school sponsored extracurriculars for that eligibility period, but they will be allowed to participate. If students don’t complete their community service in one probation period, it will carry over to the next. When a club or team has finished for the year and the credit isn’t made up, seniors cannot wear the cord correlating to their club at graduation. If a sophomore or junior doesn’t make up that credit through community service, then it will follow them to their next school year and prevent them from trying out or joining extracurriculars.
In the past, if students had less than 75% attendance, they’d be ineligible to graduate unless they paid a fine and made up the attendance through community service. Unfortunately, the difference between the new eligibility plan and the old attendance policy, is the new plan only punishes students who enrich the Fremont experience by participating in school extracurriculars.
For students with several extracurriculars, this plan can be overwhelming. Tardies and absences are weighted the same, so if a student is going to be late, why not ditch the class and have a guardian excuse the absence? After all, a guardian can only excuse an absence. The policy underhandedly encourages kids to miss class altogether instead of being a few minutes late, the exact opposite of why it was introduced.
From a student’s perspective, this policy gives the impression that Fremont values a student’s presence in class more than their learning experience as a whole. Currently, students can sit in their classes and daydream, and as long as they can maintain a C average, they’re in the clear. Keeping the bare minimum GPA, a 2.0, is perfectly acceptable, but being a few minutes late to the same class more than twice in a three week period is where the school is drawing the line.
In the past attendance policy, It was only when they’d missed 25% of a class before they were required to pay a fine and do 20 hours of community service. This raises the question: how is spending 2 hours doing unrelated cleaning a fair punishment for being a couple minutes late once in a while?
Additionally, this eligibility plan is discouraging to students who are considering joining an extracurricular for the first time. The eligibility plan being so strict might prevent them from even considering it since it requires them to be on high alert when it comes to being even a few seconds late. In fact, after talking with some students, some members of clubs or teams have actually quit or considered quitting, due to this harsher rule.
Another solution would recognize either the whole student body as candidates for the eligibility policy, or none of them. We understand that because of Utah legislation, Fremont is legally not able to apply a school-wide attendance policy. However we believe that all students are equal, and all deserve the same eligibility criteria. Shouldn’t eligibility policies apply to either everyone or no one? After asking Fremont High School, they replied, “We feel that extracurricular participants are role models in a school and we are asking them to be part of the solution in the overall success at Fremont High School.” While this is recognized, shouldn’t students be treated equally? Now that Fremont has its focus on students in clubs, those that don’t participate in anything are free to skip more than ever. Utah legislation was put in place to prevent punishment for students with Covid-19. Weber State University dropped all attendance policies and seems to be functioning just fine. Instead of hyper-focusing on extracurricular participant’s tardies, Fremont should focus on those that miss repeatedly and fail their classes. After all, right now, this brand of students continues to fail, but Fremont is preoccupied analyzing students who are a few minutes late twice.
While thinking of ways to improve the eligibility plan, we have recommended moving flex to the end of the day. This way, students with better grades can leave early as their reward, but those with worse grades or missed attendance would have to stay during this shifted flex period to make these items up. For those thinking about the bus, in 2019-2020, students had a late start regardless of bus schedule or vehicle privileges. This meant those riding the bus had to come at 7:45 AM and wait for the day to officially begin. We merely suggest moving flex to the end of the day. These 45 minutes are the same sacrifice for those without a car.
In conclusion, the eligibility plan needed some adjustment before they implemented it. In order to improve this policy, we suggest Fremont makes GPA a more important part of eligibility checks, considers tardies and absences as different offenses, and focuses on the student body as a whole rather than putting a spotlight on seniors who are involved in extracurricular activities. In the end, the new eligibility plan makes things more complicated and harder for everyone involved.

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