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Our administrative team has worked diligently with various stakeholders to develop a comprehensive attendance policy/plan for students that includes both Excused and Unexcused full-day absences (see below). This policy/plan is a work-in-progress and is being implemented immediately due to the charge being given to us through the Virginia DOE accreditation process. Good attendance will help to promote academic success for your child in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Please keep the following reminders in mind when thinking about attendance for your child.
- Your children can suffer academically if they miss 10 percent of the school year or about 18 days. That can be just one day every two weeks, and that can happen before you know it.
- Some absences are unavoidable. We understand that children will get sick and need to stay home occasionally. The important thing is to get your children to school as often as possible.
- Sporadic absences, not just those on consecutive days of school, matter. Before you know it –just one or two days a month can add up to nearly 10 percent of the school year.
- If too many absences occur, it is still a problem whether they are excused or unexcused because they represent too much lost learning time in the classroom.
- Attendance matters as early as kindergarten. Studies show many children who miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade can struggle academically in later years. They often have trouble mastering reading by the end of third grade.
- Preschool is a great time to start building a habit of good attendance. Young children with poor attendance in preschool also lose out on valuable learning time and if chronic absence continues into kindergarten, it can pull down academic achievement.
- By middle and high school, chronic absence is a leading warning sign that a student will dropout.
- Too many absent students can affect the whole classroom, creating churn and slowing down instruction.
- Families should avoid extended vacations that require your children to miss school. Try to lineup vacations with the school’s schedule. The same goes for doctor’s appointments.
- For younger children, you can set a regular bedtime and morning routine. Make sure they get 9 to 11 hours of sleep. You can lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
- For older children, you can help them develop homework and bedtime routines that allow for 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep. Make sure that when the lights go out, so do the cell phones, video games, and computers.
- Get to know the teachers and administrators. With younger children, make sure you introduce your child to teachers before school starts and keep in touch with the teachers. For older students, school officials can help you stay on top of academic progress and social contacts to make sure your child is staying on track.
- Above all, set an example for your child. Show him or her that attendance matters to you and that you won’t allow an absence unless someone is truly sick. Avoid asking older students to help with daycare and household errands.
- You can turn to the school for help. Many schools offer services for the whole family.
- You can ask your principal to calculate chronic absence rates for the whole school. Even if your child attends regularly, it’s important to know how many students in your child’s school are missing 10 percent or more of the school year.
- Seek help from the school or community if you are facing tough challenges related to access to health care, unstable housing, poor transportation, or lack of food. More schools and community agencies are working together to offer help for the whole family.