September is National Attendance Awareness Month. While every month is essential for maintaining consistent attendance, September gives us an added opportunity to remind Poway Unified families of the significance of consistent school attendance. PUSD is challenging every student to be an Attendance H.E.R.O. (Here. Everyday. Ready. On-time.)
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of school days (or two days per month) due to any reason—excused or unexcused absences, or suspensions. Following the pandemic, chronic absenteeism rates at many schools across the Poway Unified School District more than doubled.
But these seemingly minor absences accumulate over time. By the time a child reaches their senior year, two days a month equates to missing an entire school year! Each day absent from school means a missed opportunity to learn, to grow, and to connect. Teaching and learning is a continuous journey, where today's lesson builds on yesterday's. When a child misses a class, they're not just missing out on that day's topic but potentially setting themselves up for future struggles.
Research from Attendance Works shows that students who regularly show up to school are more likely to excel in reading and math, score higher on tests, and are more likely to graduate. Regular attendance also strengthens social bonds and helps students establish a network with their peers and teachers. This sense of belonging and community, in turn, fuels their desire to be a part of school life consistently.
But achieving consistent attendance is a collaborative effort. We are asking families to:
- Establish Consistent Routines: Maintaining a regular bedtime and morning routine can make a significant difference. A good night's sleep and a calm morning can set the tone for the day. Your child can also come to school early for a free and nutritious breakfast served on campus.
- Plan Ahead: Schedule medical appointments and family vacations outside of school hours or during school breaks. This ensures that your child won't miss essential classroom time. If your child will miss an extended period of school, reach out to your school about independent study options.
- Stay Engaged: Regularly check in with your child about their school experiences and keep in touch with their teachers or counselors. This can help you identify any potential issues that might be causing reluctance or hesitancy in attending school.
- Emphasize the Importance of Attendance: Talk with your children about why going to school every day is crucial. Help them understand that apart from learning, school attendance also nurtures other essential life skills such as responsibility, determination, and the importance of hard work.
- Reach Out for Help: Let your child’s school counselor, teacher, or principal know if you are experiencing barriers or hardship in getting your child to school; there may be assistance available.
Life might throw a curveball in the form of an illness or an unforeseen event. While we understand that not all absences can be prevented, our joint efforts, understanding, and proactive planning can indeed minimize them. We look forward to working together alongside our staff, families, and community to ensure all of our students can be Attendance H.E.R.O.s!