With the spike in influenza cases we are seeing now it is understandable that we see an increase in student absences. It is always best to keep a child home if you are sure that the student has been diagnosed with the flu and keep the child home until a physician recommends that they return to school. There are many different viruses in circulation right now. We are fortunate at Southwest that we haven’t had a large number of children ill at any one time. They seem to be spread out over the school calendar. The custodians try to disinfect as much as possible and as often as possible, but unfortunately kids are carrying viruses before they show symptoms and are still in school before the symptoms hit. Do what is best for the situation, and make sure those children are getting the rest they need.
When absent it is appropriate to try to get any work the child may be missing that they are physically able to get out of the way before they return to school. A little is always better than coming back to a great deal of missed work, so be sure to call the office and ask for homework or e-mail teachers to see if work can be e-mailed to the student. Of course the in-class time is valuable and can’t be made up, but heading off the load of work can certainly help for a child’s return.
On the subject of total absences, I know that most parents know there is a ten day absence limit on the State Mandatory Attendance Law that is in place. That is why physician’s notes are always helpful when considering those cases of children that may possibly exceed that limit. If we have actual documentation for illnesses, it is very easy to prove to the state it was a valid excess and they are very willing to accept that. Can you always have a note for illness? Of course not. Many times children are ill and we don’t take them to the doctor’s office. If you do, however, get that documentation just in case. We never know what else will come down the road later in the semester. School districts have to jump through a lot of hoops, and we want to be able to move quickly if we need to explain any excesses. It is very rarely a problem. We want our children to get healthy as quickly as possible and we also want to help them keep up if we can. It will be great when we begin to see these viral illnesses go away.