Back to School Toolkit: Reestablishing a Culture of Attendance and Engagement
Starting the new school year with a strong family engagement and communication plan is essential, especially after the challenges that school communities nationwide have been confronted with during the pandemic. One of those challenges has been a surge in chronic absenteeism nationwide–a December 2021 report found that chronic absence had more than doubled since the pandemic. Hedy Chang, Executive Director & President of Attendance Works, has described our schools as experiencing a national “attendance crisis.”
Over the past couple years, we’ve seen not just the previous causes of absence exacerbated, such as housing instability, lack of transportation, or the need for older siblings to care for younger ones, but also new causes of absence, such as strict health protocols keeping students at home, even when they may not be sick. The 22–23 school year is a critical moment to turn this attendance crisis around.
Without strong attendance and engagement, students are unable to benefit from the many programs that educators have developed for their success. In order to ensure that all students and families understand the importance of attendance this year, and view themselves as partners in this shared priority, we’ve created the Back to School Toolkit to inform and guide your back-to-school planning and communication.
In this toolkit, you’ll not only find strategies on how to rebuild a culture of attendance, such as how to proactively and intentionally communicate with your entire school community and nurture family partnerships, but also clear and informative checklists to help you quickly spring into action. It is our hope that this toolkit will help you meet your academic, behavioral, and social goals for students in the new school year.