A practical change

BVH implements a new attendance system for parents to clear students’ absences

On+November+28%2C+Attendance+coordinator+Antonio+Gutierrez+updates+the+daily+attendance+sheet+as+part+of+his+many+tasks+as+attendance+coordinator.

Uriel Lopez

On November 28, Attendance coordinator Antonio Gutierrez updates the daily attendance sheet as part of his many tasks as attendance coordinator.

Bonita Vista High (BVH) administration sent out an email on Nov. 4 that states BVH will transition to clearing absences only through e-mail by Nov. 7.  The main purpose of this change was to clear absences in a “more efficient manner.” Parents will also be given the option to write a handwritten letter in place of an email.

Before the new absence system, parents could clear their students’ absences by calling the office or bringing in a note. However, Attendance Coordinator Antonio Gutierrez mentions that with  COVID-19 and other illnesses, there has been an increase of absences by two to three times per day.

“With the increase of absences, you’re also going to get an increase [in] phone calls. We’re looking at anywhere between 50 to 150 people, sometimes even 200 people, absent in a day,” Gutierrez said. “In order to ensure when absences happen,  effectively, we had to go to either email only,have a handwritten note or a doctor’s note physically brought into the office.”

According to BVH Principal Lee Romero, the previous system was not practical for the BVH attendance coordinators. The practical system required parents to call in at the office alongside an email to clear students’ absences. Due to the high number of calls from parents and guardians, it consumed staff members’ time.

As a parent, I’m going to tell you, I would rather email them and tell them why [my child] was absent to get it cleared. I prefer the new system.”

— BVH principal Lee Romero

“The people who had to answer the phone calls are all the ladies upfront, plus the attendance clerk and myself. When you’re fielding anywhere between 50 to 200 phone calls in a day, each phone call lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes, it prohibits you from getting all your other work done,” Gutierrez said.

The new absence system is not only convenient for the attendance coordinators, but is also a practical way for parents to get their students cleared of absences. Romero shares his views about the updated system through a parent perspective of his own child.

“As a parent, I’m going to tell you, I would rather email them and tell them why [my child] was absent to get it cleared. I prefer the new system. I would prefer the new system at my son’s school, but they haven’t implemented that,” Romero said.

Assistant Principal Esther Wise communicates how the BVH office had to manage hundreds of calls to clear absences. In order to find new ways to make clearing absences more efficient,  BVH communicated with other school sites to determine how they managed the high volumes of calls. As the result of the new system approved, Wise mentions the beneficial changes that came with implementing the new system. 

“The overall benefit is that it frees the front office to focus on other duties that need to be done school wide to support students and staff efficiently,” Wise said. 

Though it has not been in place for long, BVH staff members have been experiencing positive changes with parents sending absence notes through email or sending in a handwritten note. For Gutierrez, the change has saved more time for him to work and focus on other activities. 

“Now that the phone calls have lessened, we are able to focus on what’s more important, which is intervening with students, making sure we follow up if a student is absent for more than three days, making sure the independent study contracts are completed [and] making sure we support each and every student,” Gutierrez said.