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Attendance mandatory

Board discusses attendance policy for in person and online classes

After the sun rises and an alarm rings, students across Tabernacle slowly get out of bed and go through their morning routine.

As the morning progresses, the day can go one of two ways: The student can venture to the school for an in-person lesson or log in to Zoom to meet the  teacher virtually.

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Seems cut and dry, no? 

There’s a bit of a gray area, according to school board member Daniel Dilks,  who questioned the Tabernacle Township School District’s attendance policy at the Nov. 16 board meeting.

“I think if a student is not in the building because they’re home sick, but they’re well enough to log in and learn, then the credit should be given for being present and learning that day,” Dilks proclaimed.

“We want to set guidelines so people aren’t pinging and ponging back and forth to different cohorts,” Superintendent Shaun Banin replied.

What Banin referred to are guidelines in place so parents or guardians have to claim whether their student will learn remotely or follow a hybrid model. He added that the attendance policy is done in coordination with the state: For attendance reports, students must be marked by reflecting their cohorts.  For example, if a student is supposed to be learning in school but stays home, he or she is marked absent, even if the student is on a Zoom call.

“Our goal is to make sure our records at the state are as accurate as possible in reflecting what’s happening,” Banin said. “This is not to penalize any students.

“This is not something to penalize them,” he added. “There will be no penalty for the parents or children for staying home.”

Keeping students at the forefront is of the utmost importance for the board, which is why there is a protocol in place for families to change their preferred learning methods by giving 48-hour notice to the school.

In other news:

  • The school board approved the hire of Kyle Calderwood as technology coordinator for the 2020-’21 school year.
  • Resident Fran Gellis questioned the board on possible drug education programs.

“Is there a way we can advance some of the eighth graders’ drugs talks?” she asked. “There’s prescription drugs in the house; some prescription drugs look like Orbit gum. Some Tic Tacs look like speed. There has to be a higher drug education for these kids. Just saying no is not enough anymore.”

Though no immediate action was taken on Gellis’ request, the board agreed to sit down with counselors and the municipal alliance to create a plan going forward.

“We have to educate them a little more,” Gellis said. “Maybe a little show and tell; they need to see it. They need to be aware.”

  • The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Dec. 21 at 7 p.m..
Anthony is a graduate of Rowan University and a proud freelance contributor for 08108 magazine. He has past bylines in The Sun Newspapers and the Burlington County Times.

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