Attendance Awareness Month

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Attendance Awareness Month

Caleb McDonald, Writer

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In the 2018- 2019 school year, there were 6.5 million student absences in Alabama. The Alabama Department of Education recognized that this affects students’ grades and designated this time of year Alabama School Attendance Awareness Month. Individual school districts develop their own attendance policies and require schools to reach out to parents. Because of Alabama’s compulsory attendance law mandates that children between the ages of 6 to 17 attend school, courts could eventually get involved.

According to the 2017 Educational Report Card, Bob Jones High School had 18.04% of students who were “chronically absent.” Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing more than 15 days of school and counts all absences. Truancy only counts unexcused absences. According to the 2019- 2020 Student Handbook, “After five (5) parent-excused absences per semester, a doctor’s excuse or documentation of another excusable absence must be presented for each absence to be excused.” In a poll of 57 Bob Jones students regarding their attendance for the previous school year, many students had fewer than 5 total absences, but 16 kids had six to nine, 11 had 10-14, and three were chronically absent with more 15 or more. Some of these students had special circumstances preventing them from coming to school. One student said she had chickenpox and two deaths in the family. Another student stated that she was often sick, and due to her father’s work schedule and her mother’s breast cancer, couldn’t get the doctor notes she needed. 

Mrs. Hopkins, Bob Jones’s attendance clerk, said parents will get a “robocall” for each absence, informing them that the student was not at school that day, but after three days, the parents will be sent a letter in the mail. When students are chronically absent, the school will get more involved, and each case is handled on an individual basis.

Students who miss more school are less likely to graduate and often feel overwhelmed after falling behind in multiple classes. If a student misses more school than is permitted in the handbook, that student should be proactive and contact teachers, counselors, and perhaps even an administrator. If not, they will contact the family to inquire about the situation and formulate a plan.

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