Changes to Exam Exemption Policy
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Given the recent development of the new exam policy, there are multiple concerns among both students and parents. The current policy states that a student must miss less than two days or eight blocks of school (exempting only school trips and a limited number of college visits) per semester to be able to exempt exams. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are able to exempt 1, 2, 3, and 4 per semester, respectively, except for seniors who are able to exempt all in the spring. This has been put in place in response to the district policy requiring all schools to report the number of "chronically absent" students--i.e. students who have missed 18 days of school or more, only exempting school-related reasons.
We, as students, believe this policy to have numerous issues, as listed below:
A. The policy implies putting the image of the school above the well-being of the students.
i. Senior students with chronic illnesses but high grades do not receive the same incentive they would have received in the past for having a "B" average or higher. This therefore pushes students who may need mental health care or special medical care to not receive the treatment they need, given that they will want to exempt their exams.
ii. Students in grades 9-11 may not have had these privileges in the past, but with this policy, students with chronic illnesses, despite their grades and work ethic, will not be able take part in what is a major stress relief--at least for those with strenuous schedules--simply because of a condition they have no control over.
iii. This policy does not take into account religious holidays or events, meaning that due to their faith, some students may need to take time out of school, and they will have an absence of this reward simply because of their religious beliefs.
B. Not exempting medical reasons and only allowing for 2 days being without a school-related reason encourages (even if not intentionally) students to come to school sick.
i. This has already been occurring with a cold being spread around to students and teachers, and we believe this could be a much worse situation once flu season comes.
ii. Students will be unproductive at school if they do come sick.
iii. Students with strenuous academic schedules will not hesitate to put exam exemptions above their health, which should not be a lesson to teach young adults preparing to go out in the world and care for themselves.
iv. The Lexington-Richland School District 5 has reiterated that a student should not attend school after being sick until the student is 24 hours clear of the illness, intentionally to prevent the spread of illnesses. Given that the average number of days for a common virus (such as a simple stomach virus or cold, where it would be unnecessary to see a doctor and receive a medical excuse) to run its course is 1-2 days, not allowing a student the full three days for recovery leads to spreading sicknesses. If the sickness runs longer, a medical excuse should be in order, reiterating why medical excuses should be exempt from the policy.
Though we understand the need for a policy to encourage attendance, we believe the current execution of this policy is ineffective for the group of people it aims towards and unfair to students it is not; therefore, in regards to this policy, WE PROPOSE THE FOLLOWING:
1. Students will be allowed to miss 3 days, or 12 blocks, per semester.
2. Absences for medical or religious purposes, along with those for a death in the family, will be exempted from the policy.
3. Seniors will be allowed to exempt all final exams if they have an 85 average or above, along with missing 5 days/20 blocks or less.
Once again, we understand the need for some system to give incentive for better attendance; however, with all due respect, the current policy makes us feel as though our mental and physical health, beliefs, and academic rigor, are being disregarded. With these changes, we aim to make our high school a better environment in which to learn and feel appreciated as the student body, rather than as just another group of numbers.
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