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January 26, 2015 09:55 PM

SF School Board Adjusts Superintendent Powers For Student Absence

Sioux Falls, SD

Two words now included in school policy could eliminate a lot of paperwork if more students are forced to stay home because of the flu.

"With the flu in epidemic proportions in some areas of the state already, we looked at that policy. We want to be proactive," Sioux Falls School Board President Kent Alberty said.

Back in 2009, in the middle of a major issue with H1N1, the school board passed a rule that allowed the Superintendent to waive the requirement for a doctor's note explaining why a student was missing school. Looking back, that rule did the job, but left more common illnesses out.

"With the H1N1, the absenteeism rate peeked at about 10,000 kids per day. We haven't come even close to that since and, honestly, it was an oversight on our part and the administration in saying we were very specific," Alberty said.

With a unanimous vote, the Superintendent can now make that same decision for students dealing with any seasonal flu strain.

"Our flu isn't as bad as it was in 2009. As a matter of fact, it is half of where we were at that point, but should there be an increase, this allows Dr. Homan to be able to suspend that," Sioux Falls School Board Vice-President Todd Thoelke said.

This decision not only helps families dealing with a sick child, but also area clinics.

"It's a community-wide effort. Obviously, we don't want clinics to be bogged down with kids being brought in just to get a note because they're going to be out of school," Alberty said.

Alberty and the rest of the board say that parents, for the most part, can take care of their kids without having to go to the doctor, which is why this rule change could be useful as the flu season continues.

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