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The Saber

RNE News

The Saber

RNE News

The Saber

OPINION: The absence policy does not accommodate for student beliefs

(Editor’s note: Mika Avni is a staff writer for The Saber.  Any opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Saber staff.)

As a practicing Jewish girl in the public school system, I have had to miss days due to religious holidays that the school does not take breaks on. Several times in September, which is the period of the High Holidays, it is customary to not do work and take several days off, as it is the Jewish new year. 

Recently, I feel the school and district policy on attendance has discouraged me from practicing my faith. Instead of doing what most Jewish students do on their Winter Break, such as praying and spending time with family, I am drowned by the thoughts of school, my mounting absences, and the work I will have to do. 

I even at times question my faith, and ask if it’s even worth it to miss school. 

This year, Richland Two had several policy changes in order to comply with state law, one of them being the attendance policy. The policy states that you only have three absences allowed for half credit classes, and five absences allowed for a semester class. 

The policy also states while students can have a verified absence for religious or medical reasons, that absence would still count against their total. If a student goes over the number of absences allowed in a class, they can either make it up with “seat time” or fail. 

Many students, like me, have had to serve seat time due to religious holidays for which they missed school days, or because they were sick. 

This leads students to ask themselves: Should I go against my faith? Should I come to school sick? 

Students should never have to base their faith off of a school policy, nor should they feel the need to come to school sick, which in turn will make more people sick. 

I have had to question my religion more times than I can count so that I don’t miss days. That is something that I never thought I would have to do especially, since I am maintaining my grades. 

I also feel that when I go to school, I am in danger of becoming ill, because so many people come to school sick to not have to make up seat time. Students should not feel pressured to come to school at their worst, not only because they are not able to perform at their best, but also because they should be focused on getting better and being medically treated. 

However, some argue that this policy is good, because along with it the district is giving an unlimited amount of seat time for kids to make up for the missed days. But I think that is simply irresponsible on the district’s part. It feels like they do not have the time to understand their students, especially the minority that miss school for religious purposes.

 The absence policy should accommodate every student’s individual beliefs. The state needs to do better.

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