Absence policy for exam exemptions changed for the second time in a month


Claire Reinthaler

Many classes have had lower attendance, originally improved by the exam exemption policy instated in November, which was recently rescinded.

Claire Reinthaler, Features Editor

If this article looks familiar, that’s because it is. This is the second time this year that the WS/FCS district has changed its policy on exam exemption status, and you’re not the only one who’s confused.
The school system started out the 2022-23 school year continuing with its modified exam exemption policy for the COVID-19 pandemic, where the absence requirements were waived and any students with an A, B or C in a class with a non-state mandated exam could be exempt from having to sit the final. At the beginning of the second quarter in early November, WS/FCS surprised everyone by reinstating the original exam exemption policy, which required students to have an A with five or fewer absences, a B and three or fewer absences or a C and no absences in order to be exempt from teacher-made final exams. The county did specify that because they didn’t instate the policy for the first quarter, any first quarter absences would not count towards exam exemption totals. There were hopes that returning to this normal policy would decrease absences and offer encouragement and an incentive to students to come to school every day, and the district wasn’t wrong. According to information released by administration, absences at West alone from last fall to this fall are way down, much of which can be attributed to the exam exemption policy, as well as the strengthening of tardy and discipline policies. The reinstatement of the original exam exemption rule was short lived, however.
Principal Kevin Spainhour sent out a mid-week email to all West Forsyth students and staff on Dec. 7, revealing the news that the exemption policy has again been repealed, saying that “WS/FCS has decided to only use the posted student grade in a class to determine exam exemptions.” This decision has come amid extensive turmoil in the school board, where local Republicans have challenged the final results of the recent school board election, as well as a steady increase in COVID and RSV cases in Forsyth county. The county is also on the verge of being classified in the “critical” category for flu cases according to Kinsa’s HealthWeather tracker. These are all likely contributing factors to the repeal of the decision, and for most students, this is a huge relief to hear.
“I think it’s great. Sometimes people are going to be sick and it’s not their fault, so I think it’s actually a really huge improvement,” sophomore Seraphim Alvarez said.
Although the back and forth has confused many, Spainhour closed his email by saying that he is “confident that our Titans will appreciate these new expectations” and again reminded students that even though the absence policy is no longer being enforced, “there is no better indicator of academic success than attendance.”