Ukiah Unified School District

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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

School Desk: Re-establishing Attendance Habits

Even though the COVID-19 Pandemic is over, many issues remain that require our attention as educators and parents. Nationwide, educators are working diligently to address “lost learning.” Lost learning is a general phrase used to describe the difference in learning in person compared to the online learning necessary during the Pandemic. It shouldn’t be inferred that online learning itself was deficient, as there are countless examples of its success as a learning method. In Pandemic mode, there were many less-than-ideal extenuating circumstances. Perhaps the most problematic issues were access to technology and the burden placed on parents to ensure student participation. Naturally, our most disadvantaged students were most affected. If you think about a family where both parents worked, ensuring their children “attended” online classes was a real challenge.

In addition, the Pandemic created considerable concern over sending children and staff to school once in-person learning resumed if they had even mild cold-like symptoms. We all endured testing for COVID-19, isolation practices, quarantining, and switching to a hybrid of online learning while absent due to illness. All of the complexity was necessary and allowed schools across the country to operate in the greatest capacity possible while minimizing the risk of the disease. 

Naturally, attendance habits have been impacted by the reality of the Pandemic. Nationwide, chronic absenteeism has never been higher. Locally, the trend also holds true. Our community must work to re-establish excellent attendance habits, especially among our disadvantaged students, who continue to have the highest absenteeism rates.

It seems overly simple, but attendance is the first step and key to all learning, and learning is the key to long-term student success in adulthood. 

Parents are the key. The number one thing all parents can do is stress the importance of attendance and education with their children. Whatever a parent makes a priority informs their children about what is important. Please make attendance a priority. It is the number one predictor of graduation rates and, inversely, dropout rates.

It starts with a plan. Establish a routine that includes homework and a set bedtime. Reading a book before bed helps establish reading skills in younger students. Pick the next day’s clothes the night before. Have a morning routine, too. When to wake up, have breakfast, dress, and leave for an on-time arrival at the bus stop or school. 

The “learning experience” begins before class starts, so don’t be late. In early grades, teachers often begin the morning with check-ins, moods, accolades, and a settling-in that sets the tempo and behavior for the day. It can be upsetting for the student who misses this due to tardiness. In a sense, their day is short-circuited from the beginning. In later grades, socialization before teaching starts is equally essential. As students mature, having the time to connect with their peers is part of the experience that helps them enjoy and look forward to attending school.

September is Attendance Awareness Month. We’ll focus on student attendance habits to help establish good attendance right from the start of school. Parents will be informed early and often about absences. We’ll be making calls and inquiring about ways in which we can help families overcome obstacles and prioritize being in school. We’ll also share general attendance statistics in our social media and school newsletters.

Just like in life, an athletic competition, or a relationship, “you have to be in it to win it” when it comes to your child’s education. To develop the skills they need to thrive, children need to be in school, interested in learning for themselves, and supported by their parents. Please help us by creating great attendance habits in your child. Arrive early or on time and strive to attend every day.