To help prevent the spread of the H1N1 (swine) flu, a potentially deadly disease, a change to the skip-a-final policy was issued and put into effect May 4.
To decrease the likelihood of people spreading this influenza, the skip-a-final policy has been altered for students dealing with illness. “If your student shows signs of the flu, keep them from coming to school,” said Mrs. Mary Andersen, the high school’s assistant principal.
If the student is able to follow the new guidelines, then that student will be exempt from missing the skip-a-final whether the student had the swine flu or not. “In order for skip-a-final to remain, you have to provide confirmation that you went to the doctor and then that you’re following your doctor’s recommendations,” said Mrs. Andersen.
The change to the skip-a-final policy will remain as long as the Level V alert regarding the swine flu is still active, definitely lasting through the end of the school year. “When the National Center for Disease Control put a level five on it and said we could have a pandemic, people are dying, it was time to look at what we could do to help and prevent,” said Mrs. Andersen.
Last week, the administration held a meeting to discuss what changes would be made and what the best course of action would be to prevent an outbreak of the swine flu. “We talked about what our crisis plan says for a pandemic, what does that mean for BSM, what about teams that are playing that might be shut down,” said Mrs. Andersen.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this skip-a-final policy where the main goal is good attendance from the student body. The dispute revolves around the fact that the skip-a-final encourages students to come to school sick. “I had pneumonia and then I had the flu four times after pneumonia within a two month period and I still came to school. I’ve come to school with a dislocated rib, all because I need the skip-a-final,” said junior Caitie Van Sloun.
Taking into account the spread of the whooping cough and the dangers of students coming to school in order to skip-a-final last year, the current decision for the skip-a-final change was relatively easy for the administration to make, said Mrs. Andersen.
If a student misses one period past the limit or becomes ill, their chance to skip a final is eliminated, a policy that many students deem unfair. Still the administration wants to avoid the cases where students take advantage of the opportunity. “The extreme cases are really obvious to me, but it’s the average, ordinary, everyday cases that makes it hard to decide what’s right to do about this policy,” said Mrs. Andersen.
Despite the hesitation to make a change, a revision of this policy is on it way. “The policy is ten years old, for anything that’s ten years old, it’s about time for renewing,” said Mrs. Andersen.