The importance of consistent, regular attendance is crucial to your child’s success in school. Good attendance helps students stay on the path to academic success. Students are at academic risk if they miss 10 percent or more of the school year, or about 18 days a year.
This graphic below highlights that at least one in ten children are affected by chronic absences and that reading on grade-level in third grade is highly correlated with attendance in the early grades. By middle school, chronic absence is an early warning sign of high school dropout.
Many of our youngest students miss 10 percent of the school year-about 18 days a year of just two days every month. Chronic absenteeism in kindergarten, and even preK, can predict lower test scores, poor attendance and retention in later grades, especially if the problem persists for more than a year. Do you know how many young children are chronically absent in your school or community?
Parents, guardians and caregivers play an important role in ensuring positive educational outcomes. To make sure that you are doing all that you can to promote good attendance for your child, consider these questions:
- Have I established a regular bed time and mourning routine for my child?
- Do I schedule doctors or dentists’ appointments during non-school hours?
- If I must take my child out of a school for an important appointment do I bring my child back so my child does not miss valuable instruction time?
- Does my family go on vacation during only official school holidays?
- Have I developed a plan, in conjunction with school staff, to address chronic health conditions for my child that might lead to excessive absences?
- Have I talked to school support staff if my child is missing school because he or she may be anxious or complain of a stomach ache but is not really ill?
- Do I have a back-up plan to get my child to school?
For more information on building healthy attendance habits in elementary school, click below.
For more information on keeping on track with good attendance in middle and high School, click below.
A great way to keep track of your child’s attendance is to keep a calendar at home that you can use as an attendance chart. By keeping the calendar in a prominent place in your home (such as on the refrigerator) you and/or your child can highlight or color in the days he or she is in school and working towards your goal of coming to school consistently.
As parents we must make it our priority to ensure our children attend school every day. When it comes to our child’s success, it’s essential we make every school day count.
Excused vs. Unexcused Absences
When a student must miss school, a written excuse signed by a parent or guardian must be presented to the student's teacher on the day the student returns after an absence. An absence may be excused for any of the following reasons:
- personal illness or injury that makes the student physically unable to attend school;
- isolation ordered by the State Board of Health;
- death in the immediate family;
- medical or dental appointment;
- participation under subpoena as a witness in a court proceeding;
- observance of a religious event required or suggested by the religion of the student or the student's parent(s);
- participation in a valid educational opportunity, with prior approval from the principal;
- pregnancy and related conditions or parenting, when medically necessary; or
- special circumstances for children of parents who are on leave from active military duty, with prior approval.
Even when absences are excused, missing too much school can lead children to fall behind. Absences due to poor physical, dental or mental health are not uncommon. It is important, however, to work with your child’s health professional and school staff to avoid any unnecessary absences. After 12 absences, doctor’s notes are required for an absence to be considered excused. Hand-written notes will no longer be accepted.
Whether an absence is excused or unexcused, the impact can be felt by not only by the child who misses school but by the whole classroom as well. If too many students are chronically absent, it slows down instruction as teachers might have to repeat material for students that have missed too much school. This can make it more difficult for students to learn and stay engaged.
The infographic below can help you determine when it is best for your child to stay home and when it is best to go to school.
Send me to school if...
I have a runny nose or just a little cough, but no other symptoms.
I haven't taken any fever reducing medicine for 24 hours, and I haven't had a fever during that time.
I haven't thrown up or had any diarrhea for 24 hours.
Keep me at home if...
I have a temperature higher than 100 degrees even after taking medicine.
I'm throwing up or have diarrhea.
My eyes are pink and crusty.
Call the doctor if...
I have a temperature higher than 100 degrees for more than two days.
I've been throwing up or have diarrhea for more than two days.
I've had the sniffles for more than a week and they aren't getting better.
I still have asthma symptoms after using my asthma medicine (and call 911 if I'm having trouble breathing after using an inhaler).
RSSS Attendance Policy
The Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ attendance policy states that class attendance and participation are critical elements of the educational process and may be taken into account in assessing academic achievement. Students are expected to be at school on time and to be present at the scheduled starting time for each class. Students who are excessively tardy to school or class may be disciplined, however no students will be suspended out of school for such offenses.
If a student is absent from school for eight or more days in a semester or 16 days for the school year (either excused or unexcused), the principal or a committee established by the principal shall consider whether the student's grades should be reduced because of the absences. The principal or committee shall review other measures of academic achievement, the circumstances of the absences, the number of absences, and the extent to which the student completed missed work. A committee may recommend to the principal and the principal may make any of the following determinations:
1. the student will not receive a passing grade for the semester and/or the student will not be promoted to the next grade;
2. the student's grade will be reduced;
3. the student will receive the grade otherwise earned; or
4. the student will be given additional time to complete the missed work before a determination of the appropriate grade is made.
For full text of the Board Policy, click here https://boardpolicyonline.com/bl/?b=rowan_salisbury_new#&&hs=180786
North Carolina State Law
According to North Carolina Compulsory Attendance Law, the principal shall notify parents and take all other steps required by state law for excessive absences. After ten unexcused absences there is a violation of the compulsory attendance law and court involvement can proceed. To read the full text of the the law, click here: https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByArticle/Chapter_115C/Article_26.html
While schools certainly prefer to work with families outside the court system, court involvement can be pursued when a child’s education is significantly negatively impacted by absences and progress is not made following interventions.
Tools for Families
We Are Here to Help
Rowan-Salisbury Schools are committed to supporting families to ensure regular school attendance. Your child’s teacher is a first resource and someone who families can go to with any questions or concerns. Every elementary school also has a school counselor that can work with you and your child to provide support. Elementary schools have school social workers assigned to groups of schools who can provide resources to families. Middle and high schools have multiple school counselors as well as Intervention Specialists who can assist students and families with any challenges they might be facing which are having an impact on school. To access contact information for these members of the RSS Student Services Department, click here.
RSS has created a Student-Parent Attendance Agreement below that can be used, in conjunction with school staff, when a child is at risk of, or has become chronically absent. When families get together with teachers and school staff to discuss the impact of absences on instruction, it is our hope that we can work together to remove any barriers to consistent attendance and get children on track for success in school and life.