Opinion: New Exemption Policy Incentivizes Students to Attend School While Sick


Photo by Tori Burris

Luke Bellinger, Staff Writer

For the 2022-2023 school year, Mansfield ISD no longer allows COVID-19 sick days to be considered “excused absences” for test exemptions. For students to be exempt from a final test, they cannot have more than two absences, which include absences caused by COVID-19. However, the school does not allow people to return to school until a week of quarantine which means if you catch COVID, you will automatically lose at least half of your test exemptions. 

I caught COVID-19 and had my exemptions taken away. When I first felt sick, I called the nurse’s office to file a COVID-19 report. They told me that I was not allowed to return for five days, which meant that I ended up with three absences on my A-days, which took away my A-day test exemptions.

I have two main concerns: first, the students are being incentivized to show up while sick, and second, students are being treated unfairly being forced to miss classes, and having test exemptions taken away with no recourse.

If you get sick, the safest course of action for the health of both yourself and others is to stay home. And yet, the school has created a system by which they actively discourage and penalize students for being responsible with health. The school penalizing students for being safe is unfair and endangers the entire student body because students who get sick may need to come to school anyway to keep their exemptions.

Also, MISD makes it impossible for people with COVID-19 to keep their exemptions. I was not allowed to return to school for a week. This created a situation where I forcefully lost my test exemptions without any way to get them back. It is hypocritical to force students to stay away from school while penalizing them for staying away from school. 

This is not Legacy’s administration’s fault. The COVID-19 policy is governed by MISD which means that the change in policy from last year affects not only Legacy High School but every student who contracts COVID-19 at an MISD high school. Clearly, the District should recognize COVID-19 quarantine days as excused absences for test exemptions.