Schools haven't returned to normal reports Alia Wong for USA Today. An alarming number of students are "missing vast stretches of their learning time – a month, two months, even half of the school year," she writes. "Chronic absenteeism – which is generally defined as missing 10% or more of the school year – has continued to dog campuses despite the full-time return to learning in person."
Chronic absenteeism has doubled, according to one estimate, writes Wong. Furthermore, attendance doesn't seem to be improving very much.
"The first few years of the pandemic disoriented parents, with constantly evolving policies on what to do when their children said they were sick or had any sign of illness," she writes. Many are stuck in that mindset, teachers tell her. If a child has the sniffles, the child stays home.
Many parents no longer see regular attendance as essential, educators say. One school sees low attendance on Mondays. Many parents work in restaurants, have the day off and want to spend it with their kids.
At Alexandria’s Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, "staff visit kids’ homes and host morning coffee get-togethers for caregivers," writes Wong. "The school gave out alarm clocks to help kids wake up – inconsistent sleeping habits are another big problem – and thermometers so parents can check if a child who says they’re not feeling well is truly too sick to come to school."
Principal Jasibi Crews says students lack "stamina." They have trouble "getting up in the morning, getting back into the routine of coming to school.”
Absenteeism is high for teachers and support staff too.
The link leads to other stories in USA Today's excellent series, "The Not-So-Normal Year."