Flu absences: exempt from exemptions?

The flu is an epidemic, attacking all people without discretion. Therefore, flu absences shouldn't cost a student exemptions.

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Flu absences: exempt from exemptions?

Hannah Boone, Online Editor-In-Chief

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As the flu season takes no prisoners, students’ focus is not on their physical well-being. The immediate concern when the flu test comes back positive is exam exemptions. However, when the flu is a wide-spread illness affecting the majority of students, why aren’t absences due to flu excluded from consideration for exam exemptions?

Many people are experiencing the not-so-fun effects of the flu. In North Carolina alone, 140 people have died this flu season, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. In addition, some Yadkin County schools were closed in response to the tremendous flu outbreak.

The students are not the only ones being affected. In other areas, schools are being closed down because so many bus drivers are sick and unable to drive.  When professionals, employees, and students are all impacted, there should be exceptions made to ensure everyone remains at home as long as they need to regain their health.

“When you have a fever, you shouldn’t be at school,” said senior Lilly Cavanaugh. “Students should be excused for serious illness.”

Symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches, exhaustion, chills, sore throat and more. In addition, Tamiflu, the medication prescribed to prevent or treat the flu, has negative side effects such as vomiting. It is completely impossible to focus or produce quality work when experiencing these effects.

“I didn’t feel good before the Tamiflu, but it made me feel even  more tired and nauseous,” said senior Spencer Bohlmann.

The flu is also extremely contagious. It can be passed along by coughing, sneezing, sharing drinks or food, or even by simply breathing near an infected person. The ease with which the virus spreads is contributing to its epidemic-like expansion.

With all these medical facts considered, students and faculty should avoid going out in public until they have been fever-free for 24 hours, as is school board policy. However, the idea of having an even higher pile of make-up work and taking multiple unnecessary exams at the end of the year motivates students to return to school prior to when they should. Not only is this not a productive decision, it is extremely conducive to the spread of the flu, elongating the virus’s lifetime in the community.

Exam exemptions have only recently become a privilege that all high school students can enjoy. Previously, they were only available to seniors, so it was understandable that all absences were counted towards their exemption. Otherwise, seniors would never be at school. It is a well-known fact that seniors need all the motivation they can get to drag themselves out of bed.

Now that exemptions are school-wide, there should be a reconsideration of what counts towards eligibility for exclusion from final exams. Included in this reconsideration, there should be a discussion concerning completely excusing and forgiving absences due to flu. With its wide range of effect, the majority of students are being punished for absence they could not control.

“I was out for four days because of the flu,” Bohlmann said. “I have to take all my final exams now, which barely count for anything.”

The average time of absence that accompanies the flu is three to four days. Most doctors write students out of school for four days. If a student has block classes, they have lost their exemptions in one week because of this virus, as the most absences one can have and still be exempt from a block class is 5, and that is with an A in the class.

There are some students who it does not concern. They will simply take the exam and move on. However, it is very hard to convince a second semester senior to take a final exam they were sure they wouldn’t have to take until they came down with the flu.

Seeing as how the flu is a universal cause of absence during this time period, administration should contemplate pardoning missed days due to flu and not counting them for exemptions. Students should be given the proper amount of time to recuperate and ensure lack of contagiousness before returning to school. They should not be forced to choose between their health and exemptions.