The Southerner

Doctor’s note requirement is excessively burdensome for today’s South students

South+students+have+to+go+to+the+attendance+office+if+they+miss+school%2C+and+if+they+miss+more+than+three+days+because+of+illness+they+are+required+to+have+a+note+from+the+doctor.+This+policy+is+unfair+for+students+who+do+not+have+healthcare+because+they+often+can%E2%80%99t+get+the+support+they+need+to+catch+up+from+missed+work+and+avoid+the+consequences+that+can+come+from+unexcused+absences.%0A
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Doctor’s note requirement is excessively burdensome for today’s South students

South students have to go to the attendance office if they miss school, and if they miss more than three days because of illness they are required to have a note from the doctor. This policy is unfair for students who do not have healthcare because they often can’t get the support they need to catch up from missed work and avoid the consequences that can come from unexcused absences.

South students have to go to the attendance office if they miss school, and if they miss more than three days because of illness they are required to have a note from the doctor. This policy is unfair for students who do not have healthcare because they often can’t get the support they need to catch up from missed work and avoid the consequences that can come from unexcused absences.

Ida Pountney

South students have to go to the attendance office if they miss school, and if they miss more than three days because of illness they are required to have a note from the doctor. This policy is unfair for students who do not have healthcare because they often can’t get the support they need to catch up from missed work and avoid the consequences that can come from unexcused absences.

Ida Pountney

Ida Pountney

South students have to go to the attendance office if they miss school, and if they miss more than three days because of illness they are required to have a note from the doctor. This policy is unfair for students who do not have healthcare because they often can’t get the support they need to catch up from missed work and avoid the consequences that can come from unexcused absences.

Ida Pountney, Staff Writer

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Have you ever missed school for an extended period of time and wanted to get excused, but you couldn’t get a note from a healthcare professional? Well, you aren’t alone. Many students at South have had this problem. Students should not be required to obtain a note from a healthcare professional to get their extended absences excused. This makes it especially difficult for students who cannot afford healthcare yet have to miss school due to chronic physical illness or mental health struggles.

There are many rules pertaining to student absences and how to get them excused. Absences due to illness may be excused by the following means: written verification from a healthcare professional, verification from the school nurse, a note from the student’s parent, or the student themselves if they are 18 or more years of age.

However, if the length of the illness is greater than three days, or if the student has accumulated more than eight days of absence during the school year, the parent should provide a health care professional’s written verification. This can be very problematic for students who have to be gone for three or more days of school.

Lack of healthcare means that students aren’t always able to be excused when they have to miss school for extended periods of time, and therefore will not always get the accommodations they need to catch up in school and stay out of trouble with truancy officers. Even those who have healthcare can’t necessarily spend the time and money to get doctor’s notes when attendance requires them.

Students such as senior Abdifatah Farah have health conditions that cause them to miss many days of school. “[Attendance is] like, you just need to go back to your doctor and get a note… I’m like some of these days I don’t even go to the doctor because I was sick continually and [was] released and it’s not like I can go back to them and get a note.”

Farah continued: “They’re scared that I will tell them I’m sick when I’m not really sick…. [now] they want a letter every day I’m sick to make sure that it’s legit. But why would I lie about being sick when I’m already missing so many days?”

Students who miss a lot of school due to health struggles also have to deal with catching up on classwork. Yet oftentimes students have no way to prepare for an extended absence, and it can be really hard to make up what they missed. Without a doctor’s note to excuse them, it’s more likely they will get penalized for missing school instead of receiving support to help them make up what they’ve missed.

“It’s really hectic trying to make up [class]work… I work and have other stuff to do… It’s a lot to maintain and manage. It depends on the teacher [to help me]… but attendance is just something else,” said Farah.

Additionally, students often miss school and fall behind on homework because they are struggling with mental health. Yet it may not always be necessary for students to seek a healthcare provider for their mental health conditions. Instead of requiring that they submit doctor’s notes, there should be a system in place to help students improve their mental health.

It’s possible for some students to get off the hook without doctor’s notes after an extended absence, but oftentimes only because students have a parent to advocate for them. However, many students don’t have that kind of parental support, leaving them on their own to deal with their own attendance and catch up in their classes.

Farah explained, “Every time you miss a day or you’re sick you can’t really go to the doctor by yourself without parents… And my parents can’t take off work… So then I just end up getting unexcused absences.”

Schools need to help students who cannot afford healthcare and/or do not have parental support to advocate for their attendance. In order to ensure that all students get help to catch up in school while staying on top of their own health, concrete changes should be made. Schools should serve all students equally, and this means we must have a more solid and fair attendance policy.

Have you ever missed school for an extended period of time and wanted to get excused, but you couldn’t get a note from a healthcare professional? Well, you aren’t alone. Many students at South High have had this problem. Students should not be required to obtain a note from a healthcare professional to get their extended absences excused. This makes it difficult for students who cannot afford healthcare yet have to miss school due to chronic physical illness or mental health struggles.

There are many rules pertaining to student absences and how to get them excused. Absences due to illness may be excused by the following means: written verification from a healthcare professional, verification from the school nurse, a note from the student’s parent, or the student themselves if they are eighteen or more years of age.

However, if the length of the illness is greater than three days, or if the student has accumulated more than eight days of absence during the school year, the parent should contact the school nurse, or provide a health care professional’s written verification. This can be very problematic for students who don’t have healthcare and have to be gone for three or more days of school.

Lack of healthcare means that students aren’t always able to be excused when they have to miss school for extended periods of time, and therefore will not always get the accommodations they need to catch up in school and not get in trouble with a truancy officer.

Students such as senior Abdifatah Farah have health conditions that cause them to miss multiple hours during the school day. “It’s difficult to explain [my absences]… sometimes I go in and… now they know me and they’re like Abdi you need to just to like… I’m trying to get stuff like an excuse,” said Farah. He recognizes the importance of getting his absences excused, “Because colleges look at that stuff,” Farah said.

The South High attendance policy states that, “Extended Absences Students who will be absent for more than three days must complete an extended absence form.” This means that student, parent/guardian, teachers, counselor, and principal’s signatures are required at least 10 days in advance. Students must work with their teachers to develop a plan for making up the work that they will miss. The completed extended absence form should then be turned into the attendance office prior to the absence.

Yet if students have no way to prepare for an extended absence, they have no way to figure out beforehand how they will make up for missed work. If they are struggling with their health, it might be hard for them to prioritize making up their work while they are missing school. Without a doctor’s note to excuse them, it’s more likely they will get penalized for missing school instead of receiving support to help them make up what they’ve missed.

Additionally, students often fall behind on school and homework because they are struggling with mental health. Either they have to miss school or they need support to catch up on missed work. Yet even with these struggles, it may not always be necessary for students to seek a healthcare provider for their mental health conditions. The MPS rules still state that they always need a note from a healthcare professional in order for absences to be excused. This requirement is becoming even more challenging as more and more students are experiencing mental health conditions and resulting absences.

It’s possible for some students to get off the hook without doctor’s notes after an extended absence, but oftentimes it’s because students have a parent to advocate for them. However, many students don’t have that kind of parental support. Without their parents or healthcare professionals to help them, students may be left on their own to deal with trying to excuse their own attendance and catch up in their classes.

Schools need to have a system in place to support students who cannot afford healthcare and/or do not have parental support to advocate for them. The current situation relies on understanding attendance staff and teachers to help these students, but this isn’t enough. In order to ensure that make sure that all students get the help they need to catch up in school while staying on top of their own health, concrete changes should be made. No student should have to feel like they are the sole advocate for themselves within a system that may already leave them behind in other ways as well. Schools should serve all students equally, and this means we must have a more solidly fair attendance policy.

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About the Contributor
Ida Pountney, Staff Writer

Freshman Ida Pountney is starting her first year on the Southerner staff. Recommended to her by someone at orientation, Pountney hopes that being on the...

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Doctor’s note requirement is excessively burdensome for today’s South students