Santa Clara County’s largest faculty district is coping with a double-digit absenteeism drawback and dealing to grasp why.
Colleges are combatting persistent absenteeism by means of a multi-faceted strategy as an increasing number of college students miss class, presumably attributable to COVID-19 infections, psychological well being points or different components.
Current information exhibits the San Jose Unified College District has had a 17% absenteeism fee because the begin of the varsity 12 months by means of mid-September. The proportion is excessive, however an enchancment over charges that reached as excessive as 25% through the pandemic. In a district that serves greater than 30,000 college students, it means one out of 4 college students missed faculty.
“Previous to the pandemic beginning, we had been at all times underneath the (persistent absenteeism fee) goal of 9%,” mentioned San Jose Unified College District Superintendent Nancy Albarran. “Now, each giant district, the city districts specifically, are actually fighting persistent absenteeism.”
College students are outlined as chronically absent in the event that they miss 10%, or 18 days, of the varsity 12 months.
Colleges are working to supply households with community-based assist and viewing absenteeism as a lingering symptom of the pandemic, officers mentioned at a latest SJUSD board assembly. Continual absenteeism may have impacts on college students’ educational success.
Darbi O’Connell, director of pupil providers for the varsity district, mentioned ongoing COVID infections might be an element, as college students could spend prolonged intervals at dwelling recovering. Charges for persistent absenteeism differ relying on grade stage, she mentioned. Whereas faculty districts are rolling again cautionary measures comparable to masks mandates this 12 months, college students and employees are nonetheless falling unwell.
“COVID continues to be with us,” O’Connell mentioned. “If a pupil has to be dwelling for COVID publicity or COVID sickness this 12 months, it’s very potential that they’re a part of these persistent absentee charges proper now.”
Elementary faculties within the district are dealing with persistent absenteeism charges from 13.4% to as excessive as 31.2%. The ranges are barely decrease for center faculties and excessive faculties, at 10% to 22% and 10% to 23.5%, respectively.
College students who’re chronically absent don’t face punitive measures, however excessive absenteeism charges function an indicator for underlying issues within the district, mentioned Stephen McMahon, SJUSD deputy superintendent.
If a pupil is chronically absent, their households are inspired to attend school-held neighborhood conferences the place the significance of attendance is emphasised, mentioned O’Connell. Different interventions embody particular person conversations with counselors or connecting households to community-based organizations.
“Everyone actually has a hand in addressing any attendance issues that we now have with college students,” O’Connell mentioned.
One other potential trigger for absenteeism is likely to be excessive ranges of hysteria and emotional stress, a difficulty earlier than the pandemic. Cheryl Elafifi, a Willow Glen Center College instructor, mentioned the district is inserting emphasis on psychological wellness as campuses are incorporating social emotional studying curriculum to assist college students tackle any psychological trauma from the previous two years. The district opened wellness facilities earlier this 12 months, staffed with psychological well being counselors to help in addressing the difficulty.
“Decreased stress will increase self consciousness, it improves educational efficiency, provides extra self esteem and a larger skill to focus in school,” Elafifi mentioned.
The scenario is occurring countywide and so disconcerting that final 12 months it prompted the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to attract up a plan to sort out and fund the disaster. Information from Santa Clara Unified College District exhibits a persistent absenteeism fee as excessive as 20% over the course of the pandemic, though that quantity decreased to 10% this faculty 12 months. Information from Evergreen Elementary College District exhibits some faculties within the district had persistent absenteeism charges as excessive as 19% final faculty 12 months.
County information reveals persistent absenteeism disproportionately impacts low-income college students. College students who take care of absenteeism as early as preschool usually tend to wrestle with studying in elementary faculty, which impacts educational success in highschool.
Finally, attendance is a vital consider making certain college students are absolutely supported at college and might carry out academically, Albarran mentioned.
“We would like the children to be there so we will assist them,” Albarran mentioned. “We would like them to grasp be at college, work together with different folks, ask for assist after they want it.”
Contact Mortgage-Anh Pham at [email protected] or observe @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.