#AttendanceMatters: Info, Tips, and Resources
*3.19.19: Update made below to reflect fever of 100 degrees which follows the Health and Wellness recommendations for when children should be kept home from school.
Framingham Public Schools is making a special effort to ensure that all students fully benefit from their education by attending school regularly. Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school and themselves. Your child can start building this habit in preschool so they learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Consistent attendance will help children do well in high school, college, and at work.
Did You Know?
- Starting in kindergarten, too many absences (excused and unexcused) can cause children to fall behind in school.
- “Being in school” is a unique experience that cannot really be made up. The opportunity for class discussion, the chance for involvement with a variety of instructional media, and the opportunity to have attention from the teacher, etc. for that day is lost to the child.
- Missing school increases the chance that your student will not read or master math at the same level as their peers.
- Students can still fall behind if they miss just a day or two every few weeks.
- Being late to school, or dismissed early, disrupts your child’s school day and may lead to poor attendance.
What We Need From You
We miss your child when they are gone and we value their contributions to our school. We would like you to help your child attend regularly and so that they are successful in school. If your child is going to be absent, please contact your child's school. When you call, please leave your child’s name, his/her room number, and the reason for the absence. If your child is out for three consecutive days, a doctor’s note is required.
Our Promise To You
We know that there are a wide variety of reasons that students are absent from school, from health concerns to transportation challenges. There are many people in our buildings prepared to help you if you or your child face challenges in getting to school regularly or on time. Please contact your child's school social worker or school counselor and he or she will direct you to the appropriate person to help support you. We track attendance daily, notice when your child is missing from school, communicate with you to understand why they were absent, and do our very best to identify barriers and supports available to overcome challenges you may face in helping your student attend school.
Framingham Public School Policies and State Laws
The Framingham Public Schools' believes in the importance of regular attendance by all students. Our objective is that every student attend school every day on time, for the full day. Massachusetts General Law (School Attendance, Chapter 76) requires that all children between the ages of six and sixteen attend school daily. A public school district may excuse up to seven day sessions or fourteen half day sessions in any period of six months. The law requires that schools annually provide parent/guardians with instructions for calling a designated phone number at a designated time to inform the school of a student's absence and the reason for the absence. In addition, parents/guardians must provide the school with a home, work or other emergency telephone number so that they may be contacted during the school day to inquire about said absence.
Our goal is to have all students in their classrooms on-time daily. If your child is absent or tardy 5 or more days, you will receive a letter from your child's school regarding their attendance record.
The American Academy of Pediatrics
Being absent from school too often, excused or not, can put a child's academic achievement—and future health—at risk. A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in the February 2019 Pediatrics, "The Link Between School Attendance and Good Health" (published online Jan. 28), recommends health care providers promote good school attendance as preventive medicine.
Defined as missing too much school for any reason, chronic absenteeism starting as early as preschool and kindergarten has been linked to poor educational and health outcomes, according to the AAP. Research shows that missing school a lot, whether from excused absences or truancy, makes students less likely to do well academically and more likely to drop out. This, in turn, puts them at risk for unhealthy behaviors by the time they reach their teens, and poor health as adults.
- If a child is missing too much school, the AAP urges parents to find out the cause. Is it because the student cannot go (e.g., illness, family hardship), will not go (e.g., bullying, anxiety, safety concerns) or does not think school is important?
- If you suspect that a health or mental health concern is causing your child’s chronic absence, talk to your pediatrician.
- Reasons to stay home include a temperature greater than 100 degrees*, vomiting, diarrhea, a rash, a hacking cough, an earache or a toothache.
NOTE: Please refer to the Health and Wellness FAQs for the Framingham Public Schools recommendations regarding when children should be kept home from school.
The report highlights proven measures to improve school attendance, including increased hand washing, school-located influenza vaccination programs, access to school nurses and counselors, and on-site medical, oral health and nutrition services. The AAP encourages pediatricians and their colleagues caring for children to promote school attendance. The AAP has made the following recommendations to pediatricians:
- Stress the value of developing strong school attendance habits as early as preschool. Ask about the number of school days missed in the past month at every visit, when appropriate.
- Document children's medical needs for an Individualized Education Program or 504 Plan when needed for access to services that optimize learning opportunities.
- Encourage families to share health concerns with their school nurse.
- Provide firm guidance on when a child should stay home sick and when a child can attend school. Lice, for example, is not a reason to stay home from school.
- Avoid writing excuses for school absences when the absence was not appropriate. Encourage patients who are well enough to return to school immediately after their medical appointments.
- Advocate for policies known to promote school attendance. These include programs that avoid suspension and expulsion and promote a positive school climate.
10 Tips For Fostering Good Attendance Habits
Set attendance goals with your child and track your child's attendance on a calendar. Try offering small rewards for not missing any school, such as a later bedtime on weekends.
Help your child get a good night's sleep. A lack of sleep is associated with lower school achievement starting in middle school, as well as higher numbers of missed school and tardiness. Most younger children need 10-12 hours per night and adolescents (13-18 years of age) need 8-10 hours per night. Check how many hours your child needs here.
Prep the night before to streamline your morning. Lay out your child's clothes. Pack backpacks and lunches. Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up like a missed bus or an early meeting. Have a family member, a neighbor, or another trusted adult on standby to take your child to school should you ever need help.
Try to schedule dental or medical appointments before or after school hours. If children have to miss school for medical appointments, have them return immediately afterward so they do not miss the entire day.
Schedule extended trips during school breaks. This helps your child stay caught up in school learning and sets the expectation for your child to be in school during the school year. Even in elementary school, missing a week of classes can set your child behind on learning.
Don't let your child stay home unless he or she is truly sick. Reasons to keep your child home from school include a temperature greater than 101 degrees, vomiting, diarrhea, a hacking cough, or a toothache. Keep in mind, complaints of frequent stomachaches or headaches can be a sign of anxiety and may not be a reason to stay home. See School Avoidance: Tips for Concerned Parents.
Talk with your child about the reasons why he or she does not want to go to school. School-related anxiety can lead to school avoidance. Talk to your child about their symptoms and try to get them to talk about any emotional struggles they may have with issues like bullying, fear of failure, or actual physical harm. If you are concerned about your child's mental health, talk with your pediatrician, your child's teacher, or school counselor.
If your child has a chronic health issue such as asthma, allergies, or seizures, talk with your pediatrician about developing a school action plan. Meet with and get to know the nurse at your child's school. If you need guidance and documentation for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan, ask for your pediatrician's help accessing services at school.
Follow the rules. Be sure you know what your school's requirements are for when your child will be absent or late. If you are supposed to call, email, or provide a doctor's note after a certain number of days out, then do it. If we want our children to follow rules, we must lead by example. Cross your t's and dot your i's when it comes to these procedures.
Keep track of your child's attendance and investigate reasons when the days missed add up. Look into why your child is absent. Think about your child's mood. Has she been spending time by herself lately? Is his chronic condition starting to be more problematic? Is this school refusal? You know your child best.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this important information. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s attendance, please don’t hesitate to contact your school's Principal or Vice Principal.
- Framingham School Committee Policy - JH Attendance Policy
- Framingham School Committee Policy - JHR Attendance Policy
- Frequently Asked Questions: Attendance / Absences
- Attendance Works Website
- AAP News Article
- AAP News Release
- HealthyChildren.org Article
- AAP News Parent Plus