When students at Palo Alto High School return from an excused absence, the make-up policies vary widely between classes and current loads are usually compounded by make-up work. While students are responsible for being on top own education, it shouldn’t mean they should be flooded with work due to sick days, religious holidays or other excused absences .
Verde believes teachers and administration should adopt a universal excused absence policy where students are exempt from non-essential in-class and homework assignments.
Although most teachers are willing to help students reintegrate into class, the sudden workload and lack of standardization between class make-up policies can cause unnecessary stress and may force students to choose between health and pursuing academic goals.
For example, when Max Rosenblum took a week off school to recover from his eye surgery, he chose to take math outside of Paly instead of struggling to make-up his assignments and compromising his mental health.
Junior Theo Lim-Jisra faced a similar situation after missing school due to the flu.
“When you’re sick, you’re incapacitated,” Lim-Jisra says. “It was really hard to bounce back [after the flu]. They [teachers] didn’t give [me] double time or anything. It was really just ‘ASAP.’”
Both students say they sent check-in emails to their teachers and attended tutorial to catch up, but finding time to make up missing assignments was difficult.
“If you’re out of school due to something you can’t control, then I feel like a little bit more understanding is is necessary,” said Lim-Jisra.
In order to further reduce pressure on students, teachers should post class material on Schoology in addition to marking non-essential work as optional. This way, students will have the tools to more easily make up any assignments.
“I would definitely feel more confident in balancing my time and it would be a much easier integration back into school after days of being gone [if those changes were made],” Lim-Jisra says.
Advanced Placement English Language teacher Kindel Launer also believes that Paly’s current make-up policy needs reform. According to Launer, a new and more lenient late policy is compatible regardless of a class’s subject of study.
“I don’t see why teaching should be different for any content area,” Launer says. “I don’t think that it [a lenient make-up policy] should impact the efficiency of the learning.”
While tutorial and the Academic Resource Center are very beneficial, they don’t solve the problem of students needing time to heal. Thus, Verde commends the many teachers who are more than willing to help students get back on their feet after missing school, as well as the administrators who seek to prioritize student health.
“We [administration] recognize that Paly comes with some high expectations and academic pressures, but more important than anything is our students’ personal and emotional health,” Assistant Principal John Christiansen stated.
Thus, Verde believes that Paly’s excused absence policy must be updated in order to reflect this intention by exempting students returning from absences from non-essential coursework, giving the time and support needed to catch up with their peers.