Opinion editorials, reviews and personal essays
By Jessica Wu
Students at SASPD are multi-faceted individuals with a wide variety of interests. With a similarly wide variety of opportunities through which to pursue these interests, there is a constant struggle to successfully balance regular schoolwork and multiple absences from class. As a STUCO initiative and general sentiment, the question of whether students should get extensions after APAC and other school-sponsored trips is one that must be reexamined to represent students’ interests.
First, a little background. The current policy is that if an assignment due date or test date falls directly during a trip, the student will get the same number of school days that they missed to make that particular assessment up. This seems relatively reasonable, however the problem lies in what happens to assessments occurring immediately after these trips. For these, no official extension policy is in place.
The rationale for not allowing extensions for assignments occurring after school trips is complicated and varied. If an assessment is due right after a school trip, the student did not technically miss it and should therefore take it or have to submit it at the same time as everyone else. It would be an extra burden on teachers to have to write additional versions of tests, and it would be unfair of them to give more time to some students but not others on assignments. It is evidently the students’ decision to partake in these activities, and they should have to deal with the consequences. The one thing missing from these reasons, however, is a student voice and perspective.
A school trip will commonly begin on Wednesday or Thursday and end on Sunday. Thus, students would miss either two or three days of school and dedicate those days, along with the weekend, to the event. After returning home on Sunday, students are not only physically or mentally exhausted, but must now make up work missed from the latter half of the previous week as well as attempt to prepare for assessments coming up during the upcoming week. What the current policy essentially creates are circumstances where students must finish all of their work that was assigned over two to three days in just one afternoon before returning to school on Monday; there, they will face a barrage of makeup tests and missing assignments.
When at these events, students are actively and fully involved. The occurrence of beginning at 8 AM and ending at 8 PM is quite common, especially when the events are at different locations in the world. There really is no time for completing all the homework from fast-paced classes, much less take the time to really sit down and study for a test. If the school wishes to claim to providing opportunities for students where they can pursue their interests outside of the classroom, then they must also recognize that certain adjustments to regular schoolwork and deadlines must be made.
There are many options to amend school policy and norm to address this issue. Teachers can be reminded to plan lessons and assessments earlier to allow students to take them before their trip and absences. A policy can be made to require that students do not have to take any summative assessment the very first day they return from their trip. Ultimately, this legitimate student concern cannot be blatantly dismissed as naïve or unrealistic.