I'm offering a new grad course this semester; this is my first teaching role. One student reached out to me four months ago, asking about the attendance policy. I did not have one because I had not considered it, being new to teaching.
I told him I'd have the syllabus ready a week before the start of the semester. He reached out recently asking about the syllabus and I sent him the syllabus, which does not discuss attendance. Then he followed up with a question about attendance policy again.
As this is a grad-level topics course and is highly specialized, I don't see an attendance policy as a good fit for a grad course in general, and I don't want to enforce one. At the same time, I don't want to have it in writing that I don't care about the attendance. When it is not in the syllabus, it is not in the syllabus. I'm not too fond of the student's attitude, who keeps asking about the attendance policy four months in advance. I want to let him know that being absent is fine, but if that is his plan, this may not be the right course for him. But I don't want to book a negative teacher assessment for myself either.
Question: Should I be straight with him and reply that this course may not suit him? Should I ask the department to remove him from class? Should I just answer that what is in the syllabus is what I care about?
Update: Following Dan's answer, I sent a short reply stating that I don't have an attendance policy. I received a reply thanking me and stating that he asked only because he will be missing 2 sessions for a conference (I hadn't even asked why). I also added a short section to my syllabus (per David's answer) stating that I don't have an attendance policy but that students should talk to me if they will miss many classes. Thanks to all for the advice.