Counseling News

Ashland Elementary School

September 2019

Let's talk about attendance.

Parents, we totally understand...there are going to be some days that you have to keep your child home from school. Perfect attendance is NOT celebrated at Ashland. When a student is sick, especially with a fever, vomiting or diarrhea, they need to stay home as long as their symptoms persist.

There are times that aren't as clear, though, where parents need to make a judgement call about whether they keep their kids home or not. Here are some reasons parents will often keep there students home that could be detrimental to their academic success and growth:

  1. The parent is sick
  2. The student is refusing to go to school
  3. Various cold symptoms (coughs, sniffles and sneezes)
  4. Symptoms associated with chronic illness
  5. The child didn't get enough sleep

Here are some solutions:

1. When the parent is sick: Please have an emergency contact or back up transportation ready in case you are too sick to participate in the transport of your student to school. Plus, it's so much easier to get better when you are able to rest uninterrupted.

2. Your student is refusing to go to school: This is a tough area, but schools have resources available to help if a student is unwilling or resistant to attending. Call your school counselors or principals and let them know about the situation. They will help formulate a plan to help the student get to school and stay in school when they get there. Ashland is a judgement free zone and we value privacy. Talk with your student and be direct about what the school's expectations are for attendance. Allow them to talk about what's keeping them from going to school. If a student discusses bullying or any other reasons they don't feel safe at school, quickly inform the principals and school counselors. We will address it immediately.

3. Various cold symptoms (coughs, sniffles and sneezes): This may be the trickiest of the bunch. Judging when a student is too sick to go to school is not easy. While it's definitely a parental judgement call, please be aware if you start to see patterns. Some students will manipulate their parents if they do not want to go to school. This could be indicative of issues related to school refusal, but they aren't as direct. If the student comes to school and is able to use their coping skills to get through the day, you are setting a routine that emphasizes their resilience and problem solving skills. Ashland has a full-time nurse that can be informed about "tough call" situations including coughs and sniffles. If symptoms gets worse, the student will be in good hands until their parent is able to come get them.

4 Symptoms associated with chronic illness: We understand how difficult this is, but despite having a chronic condition, children should attend school. Ashland is equipped to help your student through these difficult times. The school nurse will coordinate with you to make sure your student needs are met.

5. The child didn't get enough sleep: This is another issue of resilience. Children need their sleep, but also must face consequences if they aren't giving themselves the opportunity to sleep at night. If it's out of the child's control and they weren't able to sleep, then that's a different story. If a student is too fatigued to get to school, give them a few hours of extra rest, but be careful about letting them stay home the whole day.

Chronic Absenteeism is when a student misses more than 10% of the school year. That's usually about 15-17 days a year. Absences can add up quickly. Just 2 absences a month can add up to more than 15 in a school year.

Students chronically absent in Kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of third grade. By sixth grade, chronic absences make the transition to a new school routine even more difficult. By ninth grade good attendance can predict graduation even better than eighth grade test scores. Setting a consistent routine in a student's early years is essential, not only for school performance, but for maintaining a healthy understanding of responsibility and consistency.

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