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Authorization for the Superintendent to Suspend and/or Reinstate the Illness
Documentation Requirement of the Student Absence Policy (JH/JH-R)

Purpose of Report: To seek School Board authorization for the Superintendent to suspend and/or reinstate the illness documentation requirement of the student absence policy.

District Priority Area: Student Achievement

Explanation: Because of the potential spread of influenza, School District officials have worked with representatives from the Sioux Falls Health Department, the Avera Health System and the Sanford Health System to develop a process that will be used to determine when it may be necessary to suspend the illness documentation requirement of Policy JH/JH-R - Student Absences and Excuses.

The South Dakota Department of Health advises that most people with seasonal flu recover without a visit to a healthcare provider. Testing and treatment are neither needed nor recommended for most children and adults with the flu. The Center for Disease Control guidelines advise healthcare providers to screen potential flu-like illness cases prior to being seen in a clinic.

Under the current policy, students may accumulate up to ten days of absence before an undocumented illness is coded as an unexcused absence. In addition, students may change unexcused absences resulting from undocumented illness to excused absences by attending a work session and turning in make-up work. Although the policy provides for this flexibility, the vast majority of parents/guardians seek to document their child’s illness so as not to impact the 10 day absence allotment.

So as not to cause undue burden on parents and the healthcare system during peak flu season, the Superintendent will suspend the illness documentation requirement when student absences and clinic capacity to see patients reach a critical level. At such time as student absences and clinic demand return to normal levels, the illness documentation will be reinstated. Parents/guardians will be notified when suspension of the illness documentation is in effect and when it is reinstated.

District officials monitor student days of absence due to illness each school year in comparison to previous years. In addition, clinic managers monitor clinic visits in relation to the clinic capacity to schedule patients. The current level of illness and clinic capacity shall be considered to determine whether action is necessary.

Administrative Recommendation: Authorize the Superintendent to suspend and/or reinstate the illness documentation requirement of Policy JH/JH-R - Student Absences and Excuses as necessary based upon the level of student absences and clinic capacity to see patients.