Florida school district won’t excuse student absences over COVID fears anymore

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Florida school district won't excuse student absences over COVID fears anymore

One of Florida’s largest school districts is no longer excusing absences for students whose parents keep them home over COVID-19 infection fears.

The Orange County Public Schools superintendent said last week that students who are kept at home based on pandemic concerns will now be dinged for not coming to class.

“We can no longer provide excused absences for those voluntarily keeping their children at home due to the pandemic,” schools chief Barbara Jenkins wrote in a letter to parents last week.

The district — one of the largest in Florida — previously allowed parents worried about COVID-19 exposure to keep their kids at home without it counting against their attendance.

Schools in Florida's Orange County Public Schools will no longer excuse absences of students whose parents are keeping them home for COVID-19 concerns.
Schools in Florida’s Orange County Public Schools will no longer excuse absences of students whose parents are keeping them home for COVID-19 concerns.
Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP

The policy was in effect during a surge in cases immediately after the end of Christmas break.

District officials said the policy was taking a toll on teachers who had to manage in-person students while also tending to the needs of kids being voluntarily kept out of class.

Students arriving at Maitland Middle School in Orange County, Florida on January 4, 2022.
Students arriving at Maitland Middle School in Orange County, Florida on January 4, 2022.
Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP

The district also cited dipping COVID-19 infections in scrapping the arrangement.

“The number of cases has continued to decline, and we continue to require face masks for adults and strongly encourage them for students,” the district said.

About 66 percent of Florida residents are vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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