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Students concerned about exemptions struggle finding balance with health and school

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Students concerned about exemptions struggle finding balance with health and school

The school nurse examines sophomore Della Fowler's ear canal.

The school nurse examines sophomore Della Fowler's ear canal.

Kaiya Little

The school nurse examines sophomore Della Fowler's ear canal.

Kaiya Little

Kaiya Little

The school nurse examines sophomore Della Fowler's ear canal.

By Kaiya Little, Bridgeland High School

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With flu season swinging into effect, students and staff observe the balance of health and school work from different viewpoints.

AP student and co-president of Korean club, sophomore Liz Kemsley knows the day-to-day impact that sickness can have on her school career.  In the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District students are only permitted a maximum of 10 absences before outside action must be taken.

“I can’t miss school because I have to exempt some things,” Kemsley said. “And missing that much information in a day, especially in world history AP. If you miss one day of WHAP, you’re missing, if it was in a regular class, four days of information so that places a lot of stress, and having to come to school not feeling the greatest is really stressful.”

Sophomore Lauren Compton talks the importance of staying in good health before a theater performance.

“I take my vitamins, and before musicals and stuff, every single day I eat a spoonful of honey”, Compton said.

Students involved in extracurricular activities understand the consequences that absences can have on their participation. The UIL Legislative Council of the University Interscholastic League upholds a 10/5/2 absence policy for participation in activities at the district, post district, and state levels.

“There is punishment if it is unexcused, because if you miss more than three then you get kicked out of the show,” Compton said while discussing missing rehearsals before opening night.  “And depending on where you are in rehearsal is where you get behind, like if it were a week before show then you aren’t falling behind because you already know it, but if it were just getting started then you would get really behind.”

School nurse Mrs. Kristina Montes sees anywhere from 40 to 50 visits a day from a variety of students facing a variety of problems.

“I would say the common complaints right now would be headaches and stomach aches and sore throats, and that’s since all the kids are back to school, and those kinda stay common throughout the year,” Mrs. Montes said.

With the amount of kids coming through each day, Mrs. Montes can detect a pattern in what’s bringing them in. CFISD has a policy that states that after three absences the chance to exempt any semester finals is lost, which many students strive to avoid.

“I think that’s how sickness spreads, because kids are worried about exemptions, so they come to school and get their friends sick,” Mrs. Montes said when asked about preventive measures to take for avoiding health related absences, later adding that students should “stay home when you have a fever, you need to be fever free for 24 hours without taking medicine.”

Kemsley also takes notice of her peer’s resistance to staying home; aside from the strain of makeup work, students within the school district may not receive credit unless he/she has maintained at least 90% attendance during the term.

“I think it’s crazy the levels people are willing to go,” Kemsley said. “People are coming to school with things that are contagious like strep just because you can’t miss a day of school.”

Softball coach, Ms. Candi Weige, shares the teacher’s perspective when it comes to taking an off day during the school year.

“It’s difficult, because whenever we have to take a day off, not only are we kind’ve letting other people down because they have to cover for us or we have to find a substitute or because most of the time, people don’t take off the night before, it happens in the morning,” Coach Weige said.  “At 6:00 in the morning you’re trying to find somebody and trying to make plans for the day, and all those things come into account, just kind of putting pressure on our peer professionals at the front having to make sure that we’ve got everything and making sure that the students are safe and secure or trying to stay focused on our vision for the school that day even though we’re missing.”

With faculty and students alike describing what health on campus looks like to them, sophomore Della Fowler summarized what changes she would like to see being made.

“I feel like the exemption policy should still be three days but only three days of unexcused absences,” Fowler said, “rather than someone getting rewarded for going to school sick.”

This story was originally published on The Bridge on October 23, 2018.

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