Could zero period get taken out of the school schedule completely?

Absences and tardies have made administration think twice about this class


Zero period is the early morning period that some students struggle to get to on time. Teachers have to report all of the students missing class, which has led to leadership teachers – consisting of administration and a teacher from each department – pondering a solution. The prominent answer resonating among staff members is getting rid of the class altogether.

According to the school’s attendance data, DJ Cook’s zero-period economics class has the most absences and tardies. As of Oct. 24, his 33-student class has accumulated a total of 118 absences, excused and unexcused. There have been 60 tardies, creating an average of 3.57 absences per student and 1.81 tardies per student. 

“I currently teach zero period and in my 16-year career, I’ve taught zero period for 10 of those years. This year, the absences and tardies have been exponentially worse, which only pushes the school to eliminate zero periods. Absences cost the district money, which they have already set aside, but that [funding] is based on a predicted percentage of absences” Cook said. “If we exceed those absences, then we will owe more money than we’ve set aside. The current schedule we have has been a debacle every step of the way and anyone who listens to me will tell you that I was adamantly against this schedule from the start. Now there are discussions about eliminating zero period, which only makes the problem worse.”

Students have said that they are trying to get to class on time, but run into other conflicts on the way to school. Simultaneously, students chose the class knowing it was at an earlier time, so they have to adjust to the decisions that they made while picking their classes.

“I think getting stricter on the late policy is understandable for the later classes in the day, but a lot of the time in the morning certain aspects are out of your control; getting a tardy class only makes you miss instruction,” senior Claire Hass said. “But I do understand where the administration is coming from.” 

Considerably, there is an effect that is occurring on a larger scale due to students getting by with missing zero periods. The administration is worried that students are lacking the responsibility they will need after high school. 

“At any given time, one-third of the student body is taking zero period. I’m not sure the leadership team has considered what happens when you take one-third of the student body and roll them into the traditional odd-day-even-day schedule. What will happen to classroom sizes? Will we have 40 students in every class? Do we have enough classrooms for this? Do we have enough teachers for this?” said Cook. “The bottom line is, post-COVID expectations are much lower than they were pre-COVID. Students are rarely held accountable for their actions now and it’s led to this culture of coddling teenagers when we should be helping each one of them catch up to where they need to be to have a chance in college or the real world.”

Cook has expressed that students could be facing more pressing issues when they leave high school and experience a world that has adjusted into a post-COVID-19 society. Is there a solution that could stress the importance of students’ presence in class? Teachers are giving students their time in the morning and teachers are expecting the same recognition from students as well. 

“People can’t control traffic or closed highway entrances which could make a variety of students late to zero period. Especially since we have many students commuting from the Valley or even further like Simi Valley, it is so much more challenging to get to school on time compared to the kids that live in Oak Park,” senior Ariela Broussi said.