Regular attendance is vital for student success. When students attend school regularly, starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, they have an opportunity to achieve academically and thrive. Research shows that when students are chronically absent, (missing 10% or more of the school year or 18 days over an entire year), they are less likely to perform well on required assessments. Practices such as strong relationships between the school and family and recognizing improvements in positive attendance can help to increase the rate of students coming to school.Arlington Public Schools have created the following documents to guide Policy and Policy Implementation Procedures:
How to Support Your Child with Good Attendance Habits
The Commonwealth of Virginia Attendance Code requires that all children between the ages of five and eighteen be enrolled in school and attend school daily. In order to support your child develop good attendance habits, families are encouraged to help them practice the following routines:
- Finishing homework and placing it in their backpack
- Laying out clothes and the backpack in the evening
- Having a regular bedtime for a good night’s sleep
- Leaving early enough in the morning to get to school on time.
- Turn off electronic devices one hour before bedtime.
- Let your child stay home only if they are truly sick. Sometimes complaints of a headache or stomach ache might be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home.
- Make every effort to schedule doctor, dentist, and other appointments after school hours.
- If your child must be out of school for an appointment, get them back to school for at least part of the school day.
- Plan vacations when school is not in session.
- Contact the school every time your child will be absent.
- Check your child’s attendance regularly on ParentVue or with school staff.
- Use ParentVue to keep your contact information up-to-date with the school (phone numbers, address, parent work location, email address, etc.).
- When absent, work with the teacher to make sure they have an opportunity to learn and make up for the academics missed.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is attendance important?
School attendance is important to academic achievement. We know you want your child to be successful in school and graduate. That starts with regular school attendance. Students who attend school regularly have been shown to achieve at higher levels than students who do not have regular attendance. This relationship between attendance and achievement may appear early in a child’s school career.
2. What is the impact of poor attendance?
Missing instruction impacts a child’s ability to read, do math or achieve on grade level. Learning to read in elementary school, along with other academic skills, supports student success all the way up to graduation from high school. Missing school can also impact your child socially. Poor attendance can affect children’s ability to make and keep friendships; a vital part of growing up. Setting good attendance patterns from an early age, from elementary to high school will also help your child later on in their life.
3. How can parents report when a student is sick and will be absent from school?
Families can report their student(s) absent via the ParentVUE website and ParentVUE mobile app. For each absence reported, families must provide a detailed note explaining the reason. If you are reporting your student as sick, please list the symptoms your student is experiencing. The note will help school attendance staff select the correct attendance code.When an absence is submitted, families will initially see the reported absence code as “Unverified.” The absence verification is completed by the school attendance staff who will review the parent-submitted absence and determine whether it is an excused or unexcused absence.
4. What are considered excused absences?
Regular school attendance is expected of all students. However, there are times when circumstances necessitate that a student is absent from school. The following are some examples of excused absences by Arlington Public Schools:
- Illness, quarantine of student, doctor or dentist appointment
- Death in the family
- Observance of a religious holiday
- Summons to a court of law
- Violent storms or state emergencies
- Severe family emergency
- All others approved in advance by the principal (or designee).
Students must present a written explanation from their parent/guardian, or there must be a verified contact from a parent/guardian, for each absence upon returning to school (not later than two days following the student’s return).
5. What happens when a student has unexcused absences on a regular basis?
In an effort to work with students and families to identify and remove barriers that may be impacting a student’s ability to attend school, the following steps will be taken by the school administration:
- First unexcused absence, the family will be contacted by the school.
- After the second unexcused absence, a letter from the principal explaining the attendance policy will be sent to the family.
- After the third unexcused absence, the principal (or designee) will mail the Three-Day Unexcused Absence letter to the family.
- After the fifth absence, the Five-Day Attendance Plan letter will be mailed home. In addition, the principal or designee will have a discussion with the parent/guardian to determine whether there is a need for other school or community resources to address needs related to nonattendance, and to create an attendance improvement plan.
- After the seventh unexcused absence, the principal or designee will schedule a conference with the parent/guardian and student to review the attendance improvement plan
6. What happens when a student is absent from school for fifteen (15) consecutive days?
A student who is absent from school for fifteen (15) consecutive days will be automatically withdrawn from school and will be required to register again upon returning to school.
7. When a student has significant medical or mental health concerns and is unable to attend school regularly because of treatment, what should parent(s) or guardian(s) do?
Families may contact the director of counseling at the secondary level or the school counselor at the elementary level to discuss the child’s medical treatment plan and/or related needs. APS will work collaboratively with families in these situations to develop a plan in alignment with their treatment.
8. What should I do when I receive an automatic call?
If a family receives an automatic call and the child insists that it is a computer mistake and that they were at school that day, families may call the attendance office and obtain an explanation of the attendance record. Although sometimes it could be that a human error occurred, the majority of the calls have a valid reason. Families may also reach out to the teacher of the class period to verify if the student was present.
9. What happens when students are late to school?
Students are expected to report to the school attendance office to receive a pass to go to class. They will need to explain why they are arriving late. The lateness will be recorded as excused or unexcused, depending upon the reason given. As the student begins class,they will be asked to participate in a class already in session. If lateness becomes a pattern for a specific student, a conference may be requested. To ensure that your child wakes up on time, they need to have a good and restful sleep overnight.