San Rafael High School Needs to Get Rid of Tardy Sweeps 


Pier Pomeroy, Contributor

Imagine you went out to lunch with your friends to get a break from school. On the way back you give yourself plenty of time to get to school, but you hit traffic and now you’re going to be late to 3rd period. You scramble to find parking and run to class, hoping you haven’t missed too much class time. Then over the speakers you hear, “This is a tardy sweep, all teachers please lock your door.” Now you are going to be even more late to your class and have a detention, all because you hit traffic. 

I believe that tardy sweeps should no longer be in use at San Rafael High School. They cause unnecessary stress for already anxious students, especially when there are better ways to enforce attendance. 

There are many factors that could cause a student to be late to class: traffic, scheduling conflicts with parents, not being able to find parking, or just sleeping past their alarm. 

A common issue that results in tardiness is crowding in hallways during passing periods, especially if students are having to go from a class in the STEAM building to a PE class. 

Tardy sweeps are problematic because a student who has never been late before could get caught in one and suffer harsh consequences, like a call home and detention.  

Tardy sweeps are designed to prevent students from being late. They are supposed to break the students’ bad habit of arriving late and missing class time. Which causes them to miss information being taught from their teachers. However, during a tardy sweep, a student who is only 5 minutes late will instead have to miss a much bigger portion of class, now having to go to the auditoriumBy holding students in the auditorium, we are forcing them to miss even more crucial teaching, defeating the whole purpose of the sweep.  

San Rafael High School is not the only school with tardy sweeps. Students at another California school, Weston Ranch High School, also wrote about their schools opinion on tardy sweeps. Authors Leslie Valdez Paniagua and Mary Lopez Salazar argue that tardy sweeps should no longer be a practice at their school. “Tardy sweeps cause a dilemma and are unnecessary for the school” says Paniagua and Salazar.  

Elena Hoeh, a senior at San Rafael High School, says, “While tardy sweeps have the intent to reduce tardiness, they don’t actually reduce tardiness.” She explains that it causes a moment of stress, but that soon passes, causing the students to go back to their regular behaviors. 

Francesca San Diego, a junior at San Rafael, similarly says, “Tardy sweeps are very unnecessary.” She believes that because tardy sweeps take place on random days, something might happen and you might not get to school on time like you regularly would. San Diego is someone who has been caught in a tardy sweep. She points out that she is so busy spending her time at school, doing homework, and having lacrosse practice that spending another hour at school for detention is a hassle. “It doesn’t teach you anything,” she says.

Alison Zampino, Dean of Students at San Rafael High School, believes that tardy sweeps are effective. She claims, “They seem to be effective for students who aren’t usually late but are starting to get complacent about getting to class on time.”

She explains that “each minute you miss is a loss of learning time and a disruption to teachers.” Students are not angry about the fact that teachers and administrators are trying to reduce tardiness. In fact Ms. Zampino and I agree on this matter: students being late causes unnecessary disruptions to the rest of the class. 

It is true that being tardy to class is a bad habit and something that many students at San Rafael fall into. It disrupts other students and teachers when someone comes in late. However, tardy sweeps are not the answer. Just because tardy sweeps are used widely across the country, that does not mean San Rafael has to use them. 

Instead, administrators could find the students who are late to class repeatedly and have a meeting with them to talk about how this is a problem and give them a warning. Then, if this issue is still occurring a month later, they could follow up with a more severe punishment. This punishment also does not always have to be detention. Instead, maybe the administration could have the student pick up trash around the school, or help a teacher or faculty member who might have a lot of work to do. 

Students should not have to come to school with the fear that, on the one day they happen to be late, they might be caught in a tardy sweep. There are enough uncertainties that come with being a high school student, and administrators should be wanting to rid their students of unnecessary stress. The first step in doing that is cleansing San Rafael High School of tardy sweeps.