Finals exemptions, Nine absences per class now allowed due to extreme flu season


Regan Munstedt

The change in exemptions will come as a blessing in June, when students who have met the requirements can lounge around during finals.

Lauren Girgis, Editor-in-chief

   The number of allotted absences for finals exemption that was changed by the school board, largely due to the flu epidemic, has been met with delight from previously concerned students.
    “The flu epidemic was the main reason for the extension,” Assistant Principal Bryan Spiritus said.
    After absences across the school district skyrocketed due to illness, the exemption guidelines were deemed unfair by many concerned students. According to Harvard Health, a bout of the flu lasts, on average, from five to seven days. Concern was well-warranted given that many students could lose their exemptions or waivers due to something out of their control.
       As of Feb. 7, the number of absences for a junior to be able to waive their final exam and for seniors to be able to be exempt is now nine absences instead of four.
    “There is a differentiation between juniors taking AP courses and seniors,” Spiritus said. “Seniors can be an exempt from an exam, based on their grades and attendance, so they don’t have to take it. Juniors can only waive it, which means they still have to take the test, but they don’t have to include it in their grade.”
    Seniors will still have to be present on exam day, and may be exempt if they have maintained an 80 percent (if they have taken the AP exam)  or an 85 percent (if they have not taken the AP exam) in the class in the last nine weeks and as their semester average. Therefore, it is important for students to not only focus on their semester average, but also perform accordingly well in the last nine weeks. The 80 percent average is the standard for juniors, sophomores and freshmen, according to Spiritus.
    “I’m not too concerned about students skipping school due to the changes because it’s very difficult to skip school and maintain that 85 or 80 average in an AP class if you’re missing more than a couple of days,” Associate Principal Pamela Clark said.
    Nine days is 10 percent of the entire spring semester. Texas attendance expectations mandate that a student does not miss more than 90 percent of a semester, as is in accordance with the Texas Education Agency (TEA). It is for this reason that the number of absences could not be extended past nine days, Clark said.
    “Students need to make sure they’re in class enough in the last grading period and throughout the entire semester to make sure they’re not thinking about only their semester average but also their fourth nine weeks average,” Clark said. “They need to be here to make that grade.”  
    For students such as senior Claire Doles, the change has come as a blessing.
    “This semester, I’ve been out for about seven days,” Doles said. “Five of those days were because I had the flu, and 2 of those days were because I have diagnosed chronic migraines that cause me to miss a lot of school.”
    For seniors in particular, falling ill to the flu was unfortunate since most seniors hope they won’t have to worry about final exams again until college. With college visits, illness would only be something else hindering seniors from being exempt. According to Clark, more and more students have had conflicts with late exam dates and the lengthy spring semester.
    “I was glad that someone recognized that not everyone who is missing school wasn’t just skipping, and some people have a legitimate excuse for not coming to school,” Doles said. “I hope I can stay under the new nine absence rule.”