When we returned to school virtually for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, I stated many times that while our students might not be IN our school buildings, they must be AT school each day.
Therefore, while we may teach and learn within a virtual environment for at least the first nine weeks, we must maintain our commitment to high attendance.
September happens to be National Attendance Awareness Month. In fact, this year marks the eighth annual nationwide campaign to increase awareness of chronic absenteeism by educating students, parents, and communities through information and activities. Our teams are heavily focused on the connection between school attendance and academic achievement.
Of course, attendance brings its own special attendance challenges amid a pandemic, and so this month really focuses on the transition back to school for both students and families.
APS recognizes that by focusing on the whole child, significant gains can be achieved in student performance and the likelihood of students graduating from high school will be increased. Although we are operating remotely, student attendance is captured when they log onto virtual classrooms.
This year’s theme, “Present, Engaged and Supported!”, emphasizes that strong, trusting relationships between children, families, teachers, and other critical school staff will have a significant impact on the ability of students to focus and learn in this new environment.
In an effort to bring awareness to the importance of attending school every day, APS will be using #SCHOOLMATTERS in social media postings. Staff, schools, and our Social Work Department will use this hashtag to highlight what they are doing to promote students’ daily logins onto their assigned virtual classrooms. You can help us with this initiative by watching, following and using the hashtag #SCHOOLMATTERS.
Additionally, our Social Work Department is sponsoring a poster contest for students in all grades. To enter, the student must draw a picture using the theme, “Good Attendance Sharpens the Mind!” To submit, pictures must be photographed and entries emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners will be selected for elementary, middle school, and high school levels. The deadline for all submissions is Sept. 28, 2020.
Finally, APS wants to ensure that all barriers are removed so that children can login and have access to an education. If you are a family in need of assistance, please reach out to your school, and they will direct you to the appropriate staff member for support. Supports and resources may also be found at our Day 1 2020: Return + Learn site at: www.atlantapublicschools.us/backtoschool.