Students need to watch extra-curriculars, only 10 days allowed

Starting this year, students need to be cautious of when they use their ECA days since they only have 10 for the whole year, and that limit will be enforced.
School related absences are coded in two different ways, ECA, or extra-curricular activities, which count toward the 10 days, or OC, co-curricular activities, which don’t count.
“There is a list of five questions that a sponsor or teacher has to ask to determine whether it is ECA or OC,” principal Judy McDonald said.
If the answer to all five questions is “no,” then the activity is coded as OC.
“The teacher makes the first call [on ECA or OC],” McDonald said. “They turn it into Mrs. Albin. If there is a question, [Albin] would bring it to me or Mrs. Kirby.”
Students in multiple activities and sports that are considered ECA “would have to be careful,” McDonald said.
“They would have to pick and choose [what they attend],” McDonald said.
Senior Sara Finkler feels that only allowing 10 days can harm a student’s chances at getting into college.
“Students are involved with multiple activities and that limits their involvement,” Finkler said. “That is needed on college applications.”
Students who reach the 10 ECA limit will not be allowed to attend the event with their organization even if they take an absence.
“I couldn’t support a sponsor allowing a student to go if they have 10 [ECA’s],” McDonald said. “That’s just circumventing the policy.”
ECA days that have already taken place are counted in the 10, though students were only told on Oct. 18.
This policy is not new, but the administration checked ECA related absences and took action only if the grades were suffering due to extended ECA days.
However, that changed when McDonald saw the board policy stated 10 days total regardless of grades.
“A student was going to be absent for an extended period of time. I checked to see if it was covered in the ECA policy and I noticed [this policy,]” McDonald said. “I thought teachers should be made aware, so I sent out a reminder. We need to enforce all school rules.”
The only exceptions to the policy would be if a student or team makes it to the region or state levels of competition. Post-district events can use five more days, not including the original 10, and state events can use two days. Leftover days will not rollover.
“UIL recommends 10 ECA days,” McDonald said. “It is district policy.”
The three WFISD board members contacted did not respond to a request to speak before deadline.