Changes made to late arrival and early dismissal rules

Rylee Dang, Features Editor

This previously ran in our October 2021 print issue.

The early dismissal and late arrival privileges have been perks juniors and seniors have always anticipated. However, Emmaus has now changed the requirements, allowing underclassmen to skip the wait and take part.

Last year, as students returned to the building during the start of hybrid instruction, school leaders were thinking of ways to try to keep students safer, and with such a large size, it proved to be a challenge. Trying different options like separating desks and splitting lunch into two different locations, the school distanced people as much as possible. Quickly, they realized that they could better adhere to the district’s health and safety plan, only if there were fewer people physically present in the building. 

Greg Annoni, 12th grade assistant principal, tried to find the best way to cut the numbers to make sure that the district was still able to provide a safe learning space as the children returned to school. 

“At this point [we were] wanting to recognize and also try to adhere as best as possible to our health and safety plan and maintain a safe environment, because that’s our number one job,” Annoni said. “[We said] let’s go ahead and consider opening late arrival [and] early dismissal to our underclassmen.”

Previously, late arrival was a privilege only offered to seniors, whereas early dismissal was available to both juniors and seniors. Many looked forward to the chance to walk out early as soon as they hit their 11th grade year, but opening the option up to underclassmen as well has caused some to lose a sense of seniority with the privilege. 

Senior Nathaniel Lam has both late arrival and early dismissal on his schedule, something he anticipated for a long time. However, Lam believes that it does not make sense for underclassmen to share the privilege as well, due to logistical reasons, as well as a sense of seniority.

“At first I was, in some ways, disappointed at the school’s actions,” Lam said. “It’s more like a reward for being in the high school for three or four years, so in a way I just don’t see the reason why freshmen or sophomores are actually getting [it] in the first place.”

The school holds responsibility for students from the time they walk into the building until they arrive home. 

As with typical late arrival and early dismissal rules, each student must have their own transportation or they will have to remain in a study hall — one of the reasons this was previously only open to juniors and seniors since most are of driving age. As a result, the choice of whether early dismissal or late arrival is even possible for underclassmen falls upon siblings or parents who become responsible for transportation.

Freshman Leah Malik’s brother drives her to and from school every day much like other students, yet at the end of the day she is stuck sitting in a study hall throughout fourth block, unable to find any transportation home despite having the option for early dismissal. For her, on other days, her brother has early dismissal, leaving her with no option but to take the bus home. She believes that finding a form of transportation is the main reason why very few underclassmen are even able to take advantage of the privilege. 

“I don’t like [early dismissal] because I have an older brother who’s a junior,” Malik said. “So, him getting out early is kind of a disadvantage for me because it means I take the bus after he leaves early. ”

With more students in and out of the building, questions over whether Emmaus would ever implement an open campus policy have risen in past months from students and parents. 

According to Annoni, the location of the school “doesn’t lend itself to an open campus,” and he does not foresee the district allowing students to do this any time soon.

“The number of reports that we get when we have Keystone exams, for example, they go and we have to send Al [Kloss] out constantly,” Annoni said. “So it’s past incidents and data that we look at. Just on that, when we have that short window during Keystone exams where we’ve had a small ‘open campus’ thing has really been eye opening in a sense of [it is] not the best plan for our school.”

While these arrival and dismissal privileges have been open to freshman and sophomores for two years now, the school does not plan to keep this in place in the future, returning it to the original guidelines. 

“I think moving into next year we will plan to have it [for] juniors and seniors and then look [at] how things play out,” Annoni said. “If necessary, we will look at making adjustments just as we did this year, because flexibility is always the key.”