One of the greatest challenges we face, as do our partners at GCS, is absenteeism. GCS tracks absences across grade levels. We have come to learn that middle schoolers are chronically absent triple the amount they were before the pandemic, and high school students are more than double. Nationally, more than 25% of students missed at least 10% of the 2021-22 school year making them chronically absent. Before the pandemic, only 15% of students missed that much school.
GCS folks are tapping into a reservoir of creativity and ingenuity to meet this challenge head on. Working with parents/guardians, going to the home, making phone calls, making the schoolhouse more welcoming and inviting. Sometimes the efforts of school personnel are not enough. Some awesome ways the community can help are as follows:
Pastors can encourage excellent attendance from the pulpit.
Food banks, the Salvation Army, Catholic charities, local churches and shelters or other community agencies have and can often provide help to people in need, therefore resulting in better attendance.
A powerful strategy to improve attendance can be setting up a mentor program. Mentors can create an ongoing positive effect as students realize that at least one adult really cares about them. How great would it be for every chronically absent kid to have a mentor?
Companies, groups, organizations and individuals could provide incentives for improved attendance.
We would be glad to work with anyone who would like to help address this continuing plague on our schools and community. Meanwhile, please continue to care about our schools, families and kids.