Attendance & Late Policies
A student’s absence must be addressed by a note or a phone call to the school attendance line (250-248-5721 extension 1) from a parent/guardian within 48 hours of the absence. Except for extreme exceptions, absences will not be noted as “excused” beyond this time and will thus be noted as unverified.

How to Access the Voicemail System

  1. Dial into the school (250-248-5721).
  2. Press “1” to access the Attendance Message Centre.
  3. When you hear the prompt, leave your attendance information. Please state the date of the absence, student’s name, reason for absence, parent/guardian name and phone number.
As well, parents have the option of sending an absentee note to the attendance secretary instead of phoning the school.
*Please note: The Attendance Message Center can be reached 24 hours a day.

Rationale

We believe regular attendance to be the single greatest determinant of success in our school. Despite all of our efforts to support and encourage students to successful completion of their coursework and the meeting of learning outcomes, a student’s choices and actions can negate these efforts. It is only through an effective partnership and clear communication between the school, the parents, and the student that we can ensure success.

At Ballenas Secondary, we believe that the essence of our educational programs occurs in the classroom with skilled teachers. Direct instruction, explanation, clarification, discussion, assessment, group tasks, practical experience and evaluation are all invaluable components of an effective learning environment. Students who miss class time are at a greater risk of missing key aspects of their learning, and by extension, will reduce their chances of meeting the required learning outcomes of their courses. Developing good habits in the area of attendance requires the cooperation of students, parents, the school, and the community. We must work collaboratively to promote, monitor, and support the regular, on time attendance of our students.

Types of Absences Explained

Excused Absence

Excused Absences include the following:
  • Student illness
  • Health appointments that cannot be made outside of the regular school day
  • Death in the immediate family
  • Observance of a religious holiday
  • Family emergency
  • Circumstances that cause reasonable concern to the parent or legal guardian for the safety of a child
  • Other situations beyond the control of the student as determined by the principal or principal’s designate
  • Other absences with parents explanation & approval include:
    • Work
    • Babysitting for parents
    • Non-medical appointments
    • Family vacations (see further details for Extended Absence)
    • Car trouble or missed bus
The teacher will provide the student with the opportunity to make up missed work and write quizzes or tests missed due to excused absences. Students should make every effort to minimize all absences including excused times.

When a student is absent from school, the parent/legal guardian should send a written note to the school upon the student’s return from the absence, or use the automated “dialer” system to identify excused absences.

The teacher should make note of these absences and contact parents if there is a concern, but will not withhold the student’s educational program by preventing them from submitting work or making-up missed tests. This make-up work may be scheduled after the regular school day, at lunch and break times, or at XL School.

Unexcused

An unexcused absence is cause for disciplinary action. Students are unexcused if they:
  • are absent from school without parental permission
  • are in or around the school but not in their scheduled class
  • fail to attend a scheduled assembly
  • fail to verify absence within 48 hours of their return

Extended Absence (Unexcused-Explained) Policy

Each year we are approached by an increasing number of parents who wish to take their child out of school for an extended period of time (defined as five school days or more). Usually this is for reasons associated with family travel or family business. We do not have a procedure for granting students a leave of absence. Rather, it is assumed that parents will make decisions in the best interests of their own child.

We are respectful of the fact that many of our students have family members far away, and spending time with them is important. We also encounter parents who wish to excuse their child from school for extended periods of time due to emotional or medical issues. Regardless of the reason, difficulties arise when parents wish to have some sort of assurance that their child will not be behind in their work when they return. If a child misses school for an extended period of time, he or she will be behind in classroom work.

Students may well have other cultural and travel experiences that contribute to their overall development, but the many varied daily classroom activities they will miss cannot be duplicated through worksheets or workbooks. There is no true substitute for missed instructional time. It is also unrealistic for teachers to have to re-teach key elements missed due to a family choice to miss school. Although teachers will do their best to help students get caughtup, they are, generally speaking, not in a position to provide make-up assignments, or detailed packages in advance for children who have extended absences due to family vacations or work. It is up to students to provide notification to each of their teachers well in advance (at least two weeks) of the date of the absence. This can be done by completing an Extended Absence Notification Form available in the main office or from the student’s grade level counselor.

Services that we can provide to students who will be absent for extended periods include:
  • Flex Learning Wednesday mornings
  • Ministry of Education on-line tutorials
  • Regularly scheduled teacher tutorial times outside of class time
  • Drop-in support with Learning Assistance or First Nations Tutorial blocks
In some cases (at the teacher’s discretion), limited homework packages or alternate assignments may be provided prior to, or following the absence.

A student that will be missing 20 days or more may not be able to complete the course work here at the school (within the context of the regular classroom). The administration will meet with students that have excessive absences and assess their standing on an individual basis. The students may be referred to distance education options such as:
  • CEAP
  • Summer School 
Students who are away for extended periods due to medical, social or emotional issues are referred to our School-based Team for support. In most cases, students are referred to the SD 69 Hospital-Homebound Program where their needs can be met in a much more effective way.

Senior Students

When a senior student’s attendance becomes problematic (high number of absences), a letter will be sent to parents indicating a problem. If, after the initial contact, a Senior Student’s attendance continues to be a problem, they may be placed on a “probationary agreement or contract”. Ultimately, poor attendance and poor performance could result in removal from school. Grade 12s, with an approved study block may be enrolled in 3 classes in a semester.
NOTE: There is an appeal process to review exceptional circumstances with the Principal and/or Vice-Principal.

Junior Students

Detentions will be assigned for unexcused absences. These detention times will approximate the missed class time. Detentions are held daily at lunch time. A Vice-Principal will place students with chronic truancy issues on performance agreements. Students withdrawn for attendance issues will have to prove success in another educational program prior to being enrolled at Ballenas in the future. Students in grades 8-11 are expected to be enrolled with a full timetable.

Attendance and late information will be made available to students so that they can check its accuracy. Any concerns students have regarding their attendance information will need to be discussed with their teacher(s). The Automatic Dialer makes daily phone calls home for unexcused absences. To ensure accuracy, parents are asked to contact the office to verify any excused or explained absences.

PE Classes

If the student’s absence was excused, he/she has 48 hours from his/her return to school to provide the PE teacher with a note. If legitimate reasons for absences are not forwarded to the instructor within 48 hours of the student’s return, then the student will receive a participation mark of zero for each class missed.

Students who do not attend classes on the day of Ballenas School dances forfeit the opportunity to attend the dance.

Lates

Students are expected to be at school and in class on time.
Late procedures will be reviewed with students in all courses. Detentions, counsellor referrals, contact with parents/guardians and attendance contracts are typical consequences for repeated tardiness.
Students who are late for Period 1 (first of day) should report directly to that class—they are not required to sign in at the office.
Students arriving late to class should enter the class in a manner that minimizes disruption to the class.
Students who arrive late (after Period 1) are required to sign in at the office.

Students are not to leave class for any reason during the first and last ten minutes of any period.