Skip-a-Final Suspended Due to Health Concerns

Rachel Kaplan

Friday, September 11, students were dismayed and shocked when they heard an announcement that the BSM tradition of Skip-a-Final was suspended for first semester. Citing the H1N1 virus and oncoming flu season, the administration has decided that perfect attendance incentives did not contribute to a healthy environment at school.

The main reason for this drastic change was a recommendation by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health to dismiss their perfect attendance incentives in order to avoid students coming into school sick– a problem BSM has had since Skip-a-Final was introduced.

Because this CDC recommendation came after school started, and the student handbook (with all of the attendance policies) goes to print June 20, the administration was unable to warn students before September.

Although Skip-a-Final was suspended, the rest of the attendance policy remains the same, said Ms. Mary Andersen, assistant principal. Students are allowed to have up to 12 excused abscences before losing credit, and parents still need to call in to the attendance office in the event of a student’s illness or appointment.

The main concern, however, regards seniors–in particular their college visit days and second semester skipping all finals. “What happens second semester remains up in the air,” said Ms. Andersen, “I am most concerned about the seniors and their ability to skip all of their finals. I am committed to, at the very least, figuring a way to make this work for 2nd semester seniors.”

Usually, seniors are allowed two additional college visit days that don’t count against Skip-a-Final, but now that seems to be a moot point. “As long as a student does not exceed 12 absences, they should be okay. College visits have always been excused absences for seniors,” said Ms. Andersen.

To reinforce health concerns, a letter has been made available via Edline to parents and students, said Dr. Sue Skinner, BSM principal. The letter outlines responsible health practices and urges parents not to let students return to school unless they have been fever-free for 24 hours.

Though the administration hopes this will foster a healthier BSM environment, they understand that this will most likely result in lessened attendance because Skip-a-Final has been cancelled.

“We might see an increase in ‘mental health’ days,” said Ms. Andersen, “These are days when you feel pretty good, but you’re tired and would just like a day off from school. If a parent calls a student in ill, we write them down as ill.”