Attendance policies for exemptions

Attendance policies have become very strict, causing students to not earn exemptions for their semester exams.

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Attendance policies have become very strict, causing students to not earn exemptions for their semester exams.

Hannah Teifke, Memorial Staff Writer

With students missing school more frequently each year due to being ill, Edmond Public Schools (EPS) should reexamine district attendance policies. The policies put in place by the district have made the exemption policy seem strict due to outbreaks of illnesses that have occurred in Oklahoma.

Outbreaks of illnesses, such as influenza, have become more widespread in Oklahoma schools, becoming a much bigger problem in recent years due to how many students contract the flu and cannot attend school. According to a Deb blog, about 164 million school days are lost each year among students that get sick, which averages to about four or five missed school days per student. Also, due to strict attendance policies, students come to school ill when they should stay at home, thus exposing their peers to the illness and causing the same problem for more students.

EPS has a set of rules stating that in order for a student to be allowed an exemption from a final exam of their choice, they must have no more than three excused absences or one unexcused absence.

Semester exams are often difficult and very exhausting, so most students would be eager to earn an exemption so that they can alleviate some of the stress. With the strict policy, however, the chance of earning an exemption is jeopardized when the student is sick and not able to attend school.

Part of the reason why outbreaks have become so prominent is because students who are sick become determined to receive an exemption and are willing to attend school before they recover. This is not only miserable for them but those who have been exposed to the illness would then be experiencing the same problem.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) missing school more than 18 days a year is called chronic absenteeism. Reaching this mark only takes missing two days of school each month, which makes chronic absenteeism a growing problem in school districts across Oklahoma.

Chronic absenteeism increases the most during the flu season, so in order to reward students effectively and fairly, it would be best if EPS reworked the exemption policy to be more lenient towards students who are legitimately ill, with proper documentation, of course. This change would help with overall attendance being that students would not have to come to school ill.  

Contact Hannah Teifke at [email protected]