North Carolina education leaders say they want to make sure that students aren’t penalized with unexcused absences when they’re ordered to stay home because of possible exposure to COVID-19.
The State Board of Education approved Thursday a change to its attendance policy manual to make it an excused absence if a student is in quarantine or isolation as “a required state or local control measure.”
Previously, the manual only listed quarantining or isolation as an excused absence when it was ordered by a local public health officer or the State Board of Health.
Students have been required to stay home after being exposed to COVID-19 even though there’s no official health order given.
Allison Schafer, general counsel for the State Board of Education, said that several school districts, lawmakers and parents were concerned about students potentially being marked with unexcused absences.
“Obviously we don’t want our students to be counted as an unexcused absence for doing what they should do, which is quarantining when they have been exposed to COVID,” Schafer said during Thursday’s board meeting.
An excessive number of unexcused absences can impact things such as grades, school exemptions from taking some exams and participation in athletics and other school activities.
Parents across North Carolina and the nation have complained about COVID-19 quarantines forcing students to miss too many days of school.
Some school districts began lowering COVID-19 quarantine requirements. This prompted updated state guidance to be released last month saying schools must promptly turn over records to local health officials and quarantine students and school employees who have been exposed to COVID-19.