Worcester County waives Final Exams

Ellie Johnson, Co-editor-in-chief

Final exams for the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year will be waived, the Worcester County Board of Education decided at a Jan. 18 meeting.

“In order to maintain equity and fairness for all students, we have determined it is not in our students’ best interest for final exams to be administered,” Worcester County Public Schools said on its Facebook page. “These exams were created with the mindset that our students who face the most challenges would be provided supports prior to the exam in an equitable way.”

Differing from an exam that is worth 20 percent of a student’s grade, teachers have the option to make a final project that is graded like any other.

Another factor swaying the public’s opinion is the longstanding rule that if a student is absent on the day of a final exam, they will ultimately fail that class.

With hundreds of students being absent on any given day during the latest COVID-19 surge, according to school administrators, some argue it would be unfair to enforce such a strict rule.

American Literature teacher Stella Malone shares her opinion on the topic.

“I do believe the decision to wave final exams was necessary because I have had so many students affected by not only COVID-19, but other illnesses and issues as well,” she said. “There have been many students who have missed numerous days and classes for a plethora of reasons, including bad weather and make-up state testing. I don’t think I’ve had perfect attendance on any day in any of my classes this semester.”

Many teachers seem to have the same thoughts and experience this year at Decatur, putting most of them on board with this change. While some would think such a sudden change may irritate teachers because it forces them to plan a different test, after dealing with the pandemic for nearly two years they are somewhat used to it.

For more two years, final exams have not been standard at Stephen Decatur High School.

In regards this semester’s finals schedule, sophomore Rylie Kirby said, “This year’s finals should be modified because there are so many people missing school for quarantine, as well as snow days and asynchronous days. I don’t think that everyone would be prepared for the standard finals.”

Kirby is referring to Worcester County’s extended winter break, as well as three snow days in January, causing the cancellation of school in the past month.

“Freshman year before the COVID-19 shutdown was the last time I took a normal final,” junior Owen Knerr said. “It’s understandable because of what we have been dealing with being in and out of school… I think not being in person the whole time has a big affect on how kids learn.”