Kentucky Students Can Miss School For Mental Health Reasons In New Bill

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Kentucky students could get excused absences from school for mental health reasons in a new bipartisan bill making its way through the state this week.

House Bill 44 won approval from the Kentucky House Education Committee on Tuesday and will now go to the full House, according to The Associated Press.

With this new legislation, Kentucky school districts must include provisions for excused absences "due to a student's mental health or behavioral health status." The bill, sponsored by Representative Bobby McCool, a Republican, and Representative Lisa Willner, a Democrat, makes no changes regarding the number of total excused absences allowed per student.

At the committee hearing this week, three students discussed the bill's importance, citing stress from the COVID-19 pandemic and adjusting to and from remote learning.

"The legislation signals that mental health is as important as physical health and would encourage students to talk about mental health issues and get the help they need, they said," according to The Associated Press.

In related news, Kentucky lawmakers are proposing a $45 million to $200 million bill that would provide immediate relief to those affected by the deadly tornadoes in December, according to WKYT. Most of the $45 million of direct aid allotted for the Kentucky Department of Education would go toward "wrap-around services," which includes mental health services to after-school activities.

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