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Admin Hopes New Policy Will Keep Sick Students Home

Opinions and A&E Editor Daniel Jimenez

Opinions and A&E Editor Daniel Jimenez

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Near the beginning of last school year, now-junior Jacob Dempsey could be seen hovering over the tissue box in each of his classes with his stuffy nose, cough and aching throat and chest.

Dempsey had left his house for the first time after missing three days of school due to pneumonia, but that same pneumonia had yet to leave him.

“Teachers said I needed to go home because I was distracting the class, but I was like “I can’t; you don’t understand”,” Dempsey said. “”I need those exemptions”.”

To prevent cases like these is one of the main reasons the school enacted a revised exemption policy this year.

To exempt a class’s final, a student must have an average of at least 90 or have fewer than six absences with an average of at least 70.

This rule is more tolerant than the previous year’s, which required a minimum average of 93 or fewer than four absences.  

Assistant Principal Darius Maize, who played a significant role in the redesign, said the school’s administration analyzes the success of its policies — such as the exemption policy — at the end of each school year by looking at the feedback from staff, students and parents.

Maize said administrators found that many people did not think three days was sufficient to accommodate for all absences, excused and unexcused, as both counts against the exemption policy.

“Students were coming to school in not the best health,” said Maize.

Multiple students said they knew of peers doing just that during flu season, and the school is specifically trying to avoid a recurrence of this with the new policy.

“I had a friend who came to school sick last year,” said junior Max Huddle. “It really frustrated me because I started to feel sick the day after.

Maize and the rest of the administration hope the more flexible strategy will keep attendance rates high while also keeping kids home when they are ill.

Students have expressed an overwhelmingly positive response to the updated policy.

“It’s much better,” said junior Katie Graham. “It allows more leniency for students if they’re sick, and it motivates them more for exemptions.”

Multiple students, such as junior Iman Emdad, said they will now take the day off if unwell.

“The new exemption policy is better but shouldn’t include excusable absences because you can’t control when you’re sick, and there are religious holidays,” Emdad said.

The administration will review the effectiveness of the exemption approach at the end of this school year, and will then decide what to do next year.

“This policy opens the door for a lot more students,” said Maize. “The goal is to ensure students are here more often; we believe the attendance incentive helps do that.”

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