Students late due to public transit should not be marked tardy

It’s not easy to be in your seat at 8:30 a.m. sharp every morning when the bell rings. There’s a lot to do before school each day, and being marked tardy because your AC Transit bus or BART train ran late is never a good start to a day. In the mornings, students walk, bike, take the bus, get driven, or use a different type of transportation to get to school. Some of these ways are more reliable than others, but not every option is available to all students. If students live farther away from school and no one is available to give them a ride, AC Transit public buses are a great resource to get to school. 

Unfortunately, AC Transit buses run late at times, causing students to be late to class. On the occasion that public transit runs late, students should not be punished and marked tardy. 

In Berkeley Unified School District middle schools and elementary schools, there are school buses that are available for young students to take in the mornings. According to the BUSD Transportation Department, on the rare occasion that a school bus arrives late, the school gets notified of the late arrival and the students on the bus get excused from their tardiness. On the other hand, high school students who use the public transit system in place of school buses are not excused.

Some students choose not to take AC Transit in the mornings because they are scared of arriving late if the bus is not on time. AC Transit is a wonderful tool to help everyone get to school, but since it isn’t always on time, it makes students second guess their choice of riding on their busses. If students knew that even if it was running late they would not be marked tardy, then it’s like that more students would utilize this resource.

It is not everyone’s first choice to take the AC Transit’s public bus services or BART trains to get to school. Some students would love to get a ride or live close enough that they can walk to school, but that is not an option for everyone. This system is unjust and needs to be altered because it is not the students’ fault. This is exactly why a new system that allows students who take public transportation and arrive late to have their tardies rescinded should be implemented. 

Some people might say that this will lead to students taking buses and trains that they know are going to arrive late to school and using that as an excuse every day. They think that this will lead to countless students arriving late every day and getting away with it, but this will not be the case. Students who take buses that are scheduled to drop them off late should not be excused. Students should only be excused if the bus or train they take normally gets them there on time and happens to run late on that occasion. 

It’s time to stop penalizing students for something that is out of their control. BHS students are already managing a lot simply by having to catch their buses and trains every day and get to school on time. A policy allowing kids who take public transit to get relieved from a tardy in the morning would vastly aid student attendance records and academic success. AC Transit is an excellent resource for students to use to get to school, and this change would help promote access and better support BHS students.