The Student News Site of Green Level High School

The Gator's Eye

The Student News Site of Green Level High School

The Gator's Eye

The Student News Site of Green Level High School

The Gator's Eye

Goodbye to Lax, Post-COVID School Policies

From late work, to cheating, to lunch passes, the grace period is over.
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The 2023-2024 school year has officially begun, but what’s been instated along with it has unsettled many continuing students of Green Level: new, pre-COVID-esque policies. “I could talk about it for hours,” says Gemma Cini, a senior who isn’t fond of the new adjustments.

The truth hurts; for the past few years, students here at Green Level and undoubtedly all throughout Wake County have been coasting by on fairly lax academic and disciplinary policies. In other words, students have been given a grace period as they rose from the ashes of online school during the COVID-19 pandemic; learning wasn’t necessarily optimal, and students fell out of the structured and rule-based groove of in-person school.

Late Work

At Green Level, the late work policy in particular has been very merciful in recent years, much to the abuse of students and inconvenience of teachers. In layman’s terms, the general policy was “Turn your work in on time, but if you don’t, turn it in by the end of the grading period with the opportunity to earn up to full credit.” Shockingly, much of the student body preferred the latter. Of course, some teachers were stricter about late work, but overall the reigns were relaxed on due dates and deadlines. It’s understood that this was meant to aid students in their game of educational catch-up that ensued in the aftermath of the pandemic. Though, this year, deadline mercy is no more.

In the eyes of administration, students have had enough time to recover from the gaps in knowledge afforded by the pandemic. That’s not unreasonable to proclaim, as this year’s seniors were affected by COVID-19 during their 8th-grade and freshman years. As we look at younger grade levels, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen were all impacted solely during their middle and elementary school years. While that doesn’t mean students are completely unscathed, it’s not unfair to say it might be time to return to the pre-COVID policies that held students to higher standards.

Green Level’s new late work policy, which can be found on their website, is as follows: 

“We expect students to submit assignments on the teacher’s designated due date.

  • If you do not submit an assignment by the designated due date, a zero will be recorded in PowerSchool and marked as “Missing Assignment.” 
  • If an assignment is incomplete by the designated due date, the grade will reflect what you submitted. 
  • If you have a planned absence, you must communicate (email, face-to-face, or both) with your teacher ahead of time to make a plan for missed work. 
  • If you have an unplanned absence (e.g., sick), are experiencing personal challenges, and/or need academic support, you must communicate (email, face-to-face, or both) with your teacher and explain why. Student/teacher dialogue will determine appropriate support.”

Many students have read this policy or heard it outlined at grade-level meetings, and felt that administration has become authoritarian. That apprehension really only comes from the striking contrast between how loose the policy has been in recent years, compared to it returning to the standards Green Level originally upholded. Julien Hamm, a senior, says they understand the hard feelings but don’t think the policy is that demanding: “I get why people are frustrated with the policy because it is getting stricter, but it doesn’t really expect too much. It’s just putting standards on par with what they were before COVID made things more lenient.” 

Green Level undoubtedly has an overarching culture of competitiveness and academic excellence, so there isn’t much widespread worry about students being able to follow this. Many students already met the stipulations of this policy before it was even reintroduced. Though, most of the concern comes from good students who let their habits slip a bit, and from those who have always had some organizational and motivational challenges.

While right now, the blowback on this policy seems to be heavy from the student body, as the year progresses it’s foreseeable that these standards will become a new norm.

Student Expectations

Attendance and Tardies

The next policy receiving backlash, perhaps the most of all, is the updated rules regarding attendance. Seniors are especially outraged, as many see their final year of high school as the time to kick back and relax a little coming out of their stressful junior year. Seniors are infamous for being the biggest skippers, but this year that’s not going to fly.

That said, the rules about tardies are relatively the same as last year’s:

“Students should enter campus using the main office door. If you are tardy, you should report to a tardy station and then check your tardy pass for the consequence associated with the number of tardies you have accumulated.”

1-4 tardies constitute only a warning, 5-9 get you lunch detention, 10 get you either In-School Suspension or your off-campus lunch pass revoked, 11-15 get you additional lunch detention, and 16 or more have the consequence of additional ISS and your lunch pass being taken again. The shame of having to go to the disappointed faculty member ready to print you a tardy receipt is enough for students to keep up with being on time, especially when coming from off-campus lunch. While students eye-roll at the policy, it’s generally taken for what it is due to the four chances you get before actually receiving any consequences.

Lunch Passes

Something about the attendance policy that is new this year is the way Off-Campus Lunch Passes work. If you’re a junior or senior, you may have noticed receiving a red lunch pass at the beginning of the year. Red certainly isn’t a school color of Green Level, but administration explained at orientation that the color corresponds to a new quarter of the school year. Red is quarter one, and that pass is only valid for the first quarter. New ones of a different color will be distributed during the second quarter, and henceforth only be valid for that quarter, and so on. The caveat is that you only get a new pass each quarter if you’re in what the policy defines as “good standing.”

Green Level’s policy outlines “good standing” as:

  • “Passing 3 out of 4 classes 
  • Having 10 or fewer absences (excused, unexcused, and educational leave) in any class
  • Having 10 or fewer tardies (excused and unexcused) in any class”

Most students at Green Level won’t have trouble with that first tenet, but the second and third ones have been sounding some alarm bells. 10 absences being the limit for each class, whether excused, unexcused, or for educational leave is troubling to many. Kennedy Riggins, a senior, thinks this rule is “absolute hogwash.” She says, “I understand that some of it is county policy but the excused and educational leave counting against you is so unfair, especially education leave when that’s literally for school.”

That’s a fair point, especially considering that you can’t control when you’re ill or injured. The fact that those excused absences will still count against you and possibly lead to your lunch pass being taken or require seniors with exam exemptions to take final exams (more on this later) is not being well-received. Additionally, the amount of field trips some classes have during the school year (which count as educational leave), such as those in the performing arts, have some students worried about if they’ll be able to stay under the 10-absence per class limit.

It should be noted that the amount of absences you amass doesn’t necessarily reflect anything about you as a student, especially when excused and educational leave are weighed equally with those that are unexcused.

Senior Exam Exemptions

Another stipulation to the overarching attendance policy relates to senior exam exemptions. In years past, seniors were generally excused from teacher-made final exams as long as they were passing the corresponding class. This year, there have been some revisions to that rule.

The Green Level policy on senior exam exemptions is as follows:

“Seniors in Grade 12 may be exempt from exams based on the following: 

  • Seniors must have a projected final grade of B or higher 
  • Seniors must have 10 or fewer absences (including excused, unexcused, and educational leave) in the course. 
  • Seniors cannot be exempt from state testing including field testing.”

One of the perks this year’s seniors have been looking forward to is not having to take finals (with the exception of state tests). The new, stricter attendance policy being factored into the requirements to earn this privilege is jarring to many students. Once again, the previous points brought up about excused and educational leave absences factoring into this 10-absence limit is being heavily questioned.

Academic Honor Code

Lastly, the rules are getting stricter on Green Level’s #1 most common disciplinary offense: academic dishonesty. They are upholding the WCPSS Board Policy 4310, which they interpret as: “Violations of the Honor Code include all forms of cheating, plagiarism, falsification, and deceit. All violations will result in both academic and disciplinary consequences as well as consequences with extracurricular advisors/coaches/directors.”

These consequences are as follows:

“Level One violations: You will complete an alternate assignment and can earn up to 60% credit and will be assigned one day ISS. 

Level Two violations: You will earn a zero for the assignment and will be assigned three days ISS. 

Level Three violations: You will earn a zero for the assignment and will be assigned 1-5 days OSS.”

There hasn’t been much argument surrounding this new policy, as there isn’t much to be said to defend cheating. Though, something this year that has been made more evident is the consequences that will follow cheaters outside of the classroom; Coaches, club advisors, and other directors of school-sponsored activities will be informed of dishonest behavior. It’s been made clear that academic dishonesty could cost you your membership to honor societies, which a large portion of students at Green Level are a part of.

Despite their lack of control over this policy, due to it being the jurisdiction of the Wake County School Board, administration has expressed their understanding of common motivations to cheat in classes. They have stated in grade level meetings that they understand it is often a result of the stress that comes from wanting to do well in school, and not something that comes from malicious intent. However, administration does not endorse any form of academic dishonesty.

Is It Just Green Level?

Administration has reiterated multiple times that these updated policies are not of their accord alone. It’s been mentioned that they’ve worked with Apex High School and Apex Friendship High School to create new policies that shift students out of the less demanding ones that were a result of COVID-19. This hasn’t been of much comfort to students, as they are still subject to the new policies regardless of where else they are implemented.


Overall, student response to this new year of stricter policies is mixed. Some students have no problem with it, some are outraged, and some see the validity in some parts but not others. If Green Level wants to honor the feedback-orientated reputation that precedes it, maybe the school will be open to hearing about adjustments to the policies as the year goes on. In the meantime, in true Green Level fashion, the various opinions will be heard in every classroom, every hallway, and every stairwell throughout the school.

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About the Contributor
R. Butler
R. Butler, Opinion Editor
Regan is a senior and this is her second year being part of the Gator's Eye. In her free time, she enjoys writing (of course), spending time with friends, and singing with her band and the Green Level Chorus. She likes reporting on interesting things going on at GLHS, as well as larger-scale issues and topics.