Massachusetts

Chronic Absences in Mass. Public Schools Soar During Pandemic: Report

More than 29% of public school students across the Commonwealth were chronically absent last school year, according to the Boston Globe

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The number of students in Massachusetts public schools who are chronically absent has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic, according to new data.

In fact, more than 29% of public school students across the Commonwealth were chronically absent last school year, according to the Boston Globe. For a student to be considered chronically absent, they must miss at least 10% or more of the school year.

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Over 250,000 students met that threshold last school year, according to the data, which runs through March 1.

The rate of chronic absenteeism has more than doubled since before the pandemic, when just 13% of students missed that much school, according to the report.

The absentee rates were higher in urban districts, as illustrated through Springfield, Lawrence and Fitchburg's chronic absenteeism rates that are each more than 50%. At Boston Public Schools, that number was 40%, which is a 60% increase from pre-pandemic.

During a typical year, several reasons can cause chronic absenteeism. Those include barriers getting to school, such as illness and transportation issues, a lack of engagement, aversion to school and misconceptions about attendance rules, experts told the Globe.

Missing class can have major repercussions on students. That's why many districts like Boston Public Schools are rolling out initiatives to try and address the problem this fall. The city says it's focused on attendance interventions like home visits. The city also hopes to break down barriers with students so they may build better relationships and have a better class experience.

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