Absence policy unfair amidst pandemic

The current policies on absences due to illness are confusing and encourage students to come to school when they are feeling sick. Students are allowed a certain number of excused absences, and, when they go beyond that number, they are subject to disciplinary action, such as loss of class credit. COVID absences do not count towards these absences, but if a student is sick and unsure whether it is COVID or not, those absences are not excused. This policy should be changed because, whether it is COVID, a cold, or the flu, students should stay home and not spread their illness to everyone in their classes.
According to the CDC, all employees should stay home if they are sick until at least 24 hours after their fever* (temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) is gone. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen). Staying home when sick is paramount to the health of students, teachers, and staff.
It is important that students be able to stay home when sick without penalty because it allows them the opportunity to heal and not spread their illness to others. The current variant of COVID, Omicron, is extremely contagious, which is causing spikes in student absences. The school should be taking measures to control the spread so that students are not missing valuable school time.
Also, a student may have symptoms but not know if they have COVID-19. While absences due to COVID-19 do not result in penalties against the 10-day absence policy, it is important that students sick with any illness are not penalized for their absence. This can minimize the spread of the common cold, influenza, and other viruses.
Additionally, due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, testing for the virus is hard to come by. If a person with COVID-19 symptoms is unable to obtain a test, they should still stay at home in the event that they do have the virus and don’t know about it.
While regular attendance at school is important to a student’s learning, student health should come first.
Allowing ill students to stay home until they are fully healed and no longer contagious without penalty will reduce disruptions to the learning environment and allow more students to be at school safely.