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“Mental Health Days” Adopted as Official Excused Absence Reason

After hearing from youth across the state of Washington, the legislature recognized that students' mental health is a component of their physical health and that students' mental health can affect their ability to learn. The legislature found that school districts were not consistently recognizing student absences for mental health reasons as excused absences. Therefore, through House Bill 1834, the legislature now requires that student absences for mental health reasons are recognized as excused absences. As a result, the Shoreline School Board has revised Board policy 3122, Excused and Unexcused Absences, to reflect this change.

The Shoreline school district and the School Board echo the sentiment expressed by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction that mental health is health. States OSPI, “The social, emotional, mental, and physical health of students is a shared responsibility and a critical component of student learning and overall well-being. An excused absence for mental health wellness provides the ability to be proactive in care, notice and address symptoms, and take time as needed to prioritize wellness.”

Shoreline Schools Superintendent Susana Reyes offers, “By excusing mental health days for our students in accordance with state policy, we hope to reduce stigma, identify opportunities to provide support to students in need, and allow for open and honest communication about reasons for absences. We care deeply about our students’ health in all ways, including mental health. This policy revision supports our core values as a community.”

If you are a student or parent of a student who is missing school due to a mental health issue, we encourage you to reach out to your school counselor or staff member for support.