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Absences A Concern During Distance Learning

Rows of red school chairs placed in an empty classroom.
Flickr Creative Commons
Classrooms around the country are sitting empty as many school districts turn to some form of distance learning to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As many schools across our region are turning to distance learning to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, districts are concerned about how to enforce attendance for remote students.

Chronic absenteeism was already a major factor in student learning before the pandemic.

Now, a combination of school closures and untested distance learning procedures, earlier this spring, may have exacerbated the problem. That’s why some districts are relying on outreach efforts like phone calls and home visits if students are absent.

Those connections are key for districts.

“It’s important to make sure that our students are working,” said Bryn Lapenta, senior director of student accounting for the Washoe County School District in Nevada. “We’re also concerned for students’ well being.”

While Lapenta underlined the importance of participation, she says many districts in Nevada are also implementing policies aimed at preventing students from being held back a year solely on the basis of attendance.

However, one principle will remain constant this year — if a student doesn’t do the work, they’re at risk of failing the course or not moving on to the next grade.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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