Reality of the attendance line

Hundreds of attendance calls lead to overflow.

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Arianna Joob

The attendance office located by door one is where the secretaries figure out teacher and student absences.

Arianna Joob

On a cold, winter day you rush to door one, fling the first door open, and scramble to get inside. The corridor hits you with a wave of hot, dry air. You see figures of people walking into the fluorescent light from the building as you swing the second door open to invite them inside. 

It is still dark outside and all you can think about is rushing into school to meet up with friends and get some homework done before first period. Then you remember that unverified absence that you need to take care of, but you just let the thought escape your mind. 

Quickly, you smile at the person sitting at the front desk and sprint past. At that moment, you completely forget that the attendance office is just beyond that desk with people already beginning to answer phone calls for the day ahead. 

Inside the office, many people have stepped up to try to figure out attendance due to our current school situation. They work hard all day just trying to keep up with the demands of attendance.

There is no “working ahead” for them because the demands of figuring out attendance for the day are too time-consuming.

People do not realize the work that goes into figuring out attendance so that all student absences are accounted for, things are done per safety protocols, and substitutes are found for absent teachers.

There is no doubt that the attendance had been overwhelmed with people calling in that are sick but also those with appointments and other activities. With the spark in COVID-19 cases and people exposed, this obviously affects the attendance line.

“There are about 300 [attendance line calls] a day,” said Jen Besch, secretary of the H-O pod. “Once you leave a message on the line that goes into a voicemail bank, so your [call is] not going anywhere.”

All 300 of these calls must be individually processed for attendance to be put into the system.

“[There are] basically three different steps that need to be completed for each call,” said Melanie Ressler, attendance secretary and secretary for the full-day attendance line.

The added step of documenting COVID-19 symptoms for the nurses takes extra time that can be hard to account for, given that the system and amount of people dealing with attendance are the same as previous years. 

However, there are ways to make the process of calling into the attendance line smoother for these secretaries.

“What would be very helpful is to please say [the student] ID number and also the time of leaving and returning,” said Darlene Pfaff, secretary for the half-day attendance line.

Making the information clear to the people answering the calls will allow them to get the information imputed quickly, so they are ready for the next call.

In this chaotic time that we are all experiencing, it is important to have respect and compassion for the people that deal with the attendance line. Although this situation is not ideal, the people helping with attendance are doing their best and are making an effort to make the most of a difficult situation.