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The Monarch Times

Student No-Shows Throughout State

Currently, student absences are at an all time high in the United States. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 11.5% of students were chronically absent. The pandemic resulted in statewide physical school closure in March of 2020, causing an increase in student absences.  In 2022-23, this rose to 30% of students being chronically absent, spiking concern amongst school districts in the US.

California has expanded policies in schools to raise awareness of the effects of chronic absenteeism and to increase student connection to school. The state has gone as far as implementing legislation to designate an Attendance Awareness Month to encourage community-based solutions to chronic absenteeism. Mt. Eden Principal Dr. Monique Walton shares policies at Mt. Eden currently in place to improve attendance, although at times they are not entirely successful: randomized tardy sweeps, detention for students caught in 3 tardy sweeps, and, to be introduced in a few years, Saturday school for any type of wrongdoings. 

Additionally, there are also Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) workers that do weekly check-ins for chronically absent students and house visits if a student has not been seen around school for long periods of time. The number of students impacted varies each year on the levels of chronic absenteeism. According to the California Department of Education, schools with regular CWA visits have seen an improvement in their attendance compared to schools without regular CWA visits.

Mt. Eden teacher Todd Rose shared how he thinks attendance policies at school are unsuccessful because they have no consistency or penalty. Dr. Walton also stated that attendance policies aren’t necessarily successful or unsuccessful, as attendance continues to be a concern.

Moreover, COVID-related school closures, remote learning, and quarantines have created a new habit for millions of families: optional, not mandatory, daily school attendance. Director of Curriculum Instruction and Assessment Hector Garcia stated, “we have had an increase in wandering at our school. […] I think this is after the pandemic.” Garcia also shared how he believes attendance is an issue at most school sites, not just Mt. Eden, and how chronic absenteeism has improved in the years after the pandemic.

Public schools in California expect students to attend school daily, since attendance is critical for a students’ academic success. “Attendance is vital to student success, you have to be here to get the instructions. […] Being here is crucial because you’re just disconnected if you’re not,” claimed Rose. Rose shared how he thinks attendance is a problem for the entire school because instructions are slowed down when kids enter late or wander around campus.

Although there are many policies in California to increase students’ presence in class, student absences continue to increase and according to PACE, around 38% of absences are labeled unexcused.

“We really need to do a better job of listening to our students, actually asking them questions. I think that could be a key in helping us work on solutions to solve the attendance challenge,” said Garcia.

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Sofia Cordoba
Sofia Cordoba, Co-Editor, Formatting Editor
Hi! My name is Sofia Cordoba and I am a Co-Editor and Formatting Editor of The Monarch Times for the 2023-24 school year. I have been with The Monarch Times for 2 years now, learning all about the ethics of journalism with my class. I was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and now I reside in Hayward, California. I enjoy playing with my doggy Zeus, baking chocolate chip cookies, and sleeping. I hope you enjoy the articles I have written and more to come!  
Itzel Esquivel
Itzel Esquivel, Cartoonist
Hello! My name is Itzel Esquivel and I am a cartoonist for The Monarch Times this 2023-24 school year. This is my first year and I’m the only freshman in The Monarch Times. My time in this class has been super enjoyable because of the students in it; they make everything fun. I love listening to music and going for walks during the evening. Hope you enjoy my cartoons and occasional articles!
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