FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSQ: On what occasions are absences from school considered excused?A: Excused absences include:
- Personal Illness
- Death in the family
- Medical or Dental appointments
- Court appearances
- Religious holidays
- Illness in the immediate family that requires a student to be absent
- Emergency situations
- Trips or activities that enhance or extend the student’s education (*when approved by the principal in advance)
Q: What is required of parents/guardians when a student is absent from school?
A: When a student is absent from school, parents/guardians are responsible for notifying the school on the day of the absence by calling the Absentee Phone-in Number of the individual school. The Phone-in Line is a 24-hour line that allows parents/guardians to leave messages in regard to student attendance.
When calling, please identify yourself and leave the following information:
- student’s name (slowly spell name)
- student’s grade
- return phone number, and
- the reason for the absence
When the student returns to school, a written explanation is required from a parent or guardian for each absence. The note should include:
- date(s) of the absence
- reason for the absence,
- and the signature of the parent or guardian.
Q: Why is regular school attendance important?
A: It is the law, Code of Virginia, 22.1-254. Seventy-five percent of students that do not attend school regularly do not graduate. There are many benefits of regular school attendance:
- academic learning and success
- social learning and development
- ensure completion of graduation requirements
- development of skills to become a responsible member of society
- development of strong work ethics that carry over into the workplace
Additionally, students who are frequently absent from school:
- Miss educational and social learning opportunities
- Exhibit “gaps” in their learning
- Distance themselves from their peers
- Create patterns which follow them as they progress in school and life
- Drop out more frequently than students who attend
- Seventy-eight percent of those who end up in prison had a first arrest for school truancy.
Q: Will the school notify me if my child is absent from school?
A: Whenever possible the parent/guardian should notify the school if an absence occurs. In the event that no contact is made with the school, to ensure the safety and well-being of the student, the school will attempt to verify the absence by calling the phone numbers on file at the school for a parent or guardian on the day of the student’s absence. If contact is not made, a phone message will be left.
Q: What happens if I fail to call or send in a note for my child’s absence from school?
A: If a parent fails to verify a student’s absence by phone or by note, the absence will be considered “unexcused.” Students may receive disciplinary sanctions by administrative staff for unexcused absences.
Q: Do I need to provide a note when my child arrives to school late?
A: Yes, parents/guardians are required to provide a note or to escort late arrivals into the building and state the reason for the tardiness. As with absences, students may receive disciplinary sanctions for continued unexcused late arrivals.
Q: Can my child’s school require a physician’s note for absences?
A: Yes, schools can require doctor’s notes for absences based on a student’s prior attendance history. Once a doctor’s note has been required and then not provided, the student’s absence will be considered unexcused.
Q: If I take my child on a vacation during the school year, are the absences excused?
A: School board regulation §8-17, provides a list of circumstances in which a principal shall excuse a student's absence. This list includes personal illness, death in the family, medical and dental appointments, court appearances, religious holidays, illness in the immediate family that require a student to be absent, emergency that requires a student to be absent, and trips or activities that enhance or extend the student’s education, when approved by the principal in advance.
Q: Is kindergarten mandatory?
A: In Virginia, parents/guardians must ensure that a child, who has reached his or her the fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year, attends school in compliance with the state compulsory attendance law as specified in §22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia.
Parents/guardians who believe that a child is not mentally, physically, or emotionally prepared to attend school, must notify the Superintendent in writing that they want to delay compulsory attendance until the following year if the child has not reached his or her sixth birthday on or before September 30.
Q: Can my child drop out of school at the age of 16?
A: No, the Compulsory Attendance Law (Code of Virginia §22.1-254) outlines the requirement that juveniles under the age of 18 are required to attend school.
Q: What can I do if I am having difficulty getting my child to attend school regularly?
A: You should contact a school administrator, your child’s school counselor, and/or teacher with your concerns. The school will work with the family in an attempt to resolve attendance issues and concerns. If warranted, an attendance referral may be made and an attendance conference scheduled.
Q: What happens if my child is considered withdrawn for non-attendance?
A: If your child is considered withdrawn, this is the result of consecutive absences. You will be notified by your child’s school and ultimately an Attendance Officer if your child’s enrollment status is not resolved. If notified by an Attendance Officer, you may be given three days to resolve the matter with the possibility of court intervention if not in compliance with the Compulsory Attendance Law.
Q: Why would the school withdraw my child if I have not moved?
A: If a student is absent for 15 consecutive days, regardless of the reason, state law requires that the student be dropped from the attendance roll and marked “Withdrawn.”