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Schools seeing uptick in absenteeism

“We know our students are benefiting academically, and socially/emotionally from in-person instruction. It is imperative that we come together as a community so we don’t have to take more restrictive measures.”
— ANWSU Supt. Sheila Soule

ADDISON COUNTY — There were more empty desks than usual in county classrooms after this past week’s Thanksgiving break.
School officials said there were two reasons for what Addison Central School District Superintendent Peter Burrows called a “slight uptick” in absenteeism in his district.
Some families chose remote learning until they could assess whether the vacation would have the effect of worsening the COVID-19 outbreak, as many health experts feared. 
Others followed school officials’ requests not to send their students in if they attended mixed-household gatherings over the break.
Addison Northwest Supervisory Union Superintendent Sheila Soule confirmed “absences are more than we might normally expect” in ANWSD early this week for those reasons.  
“Some are quarantining due to travel or other reasons, and, in some cases, parents have elected to keep their children home temporarily to ensure there isn’t a spike in cases due to the holiday break,” Soule said.
The numbers do not look dramatic. Burrows said ACSD, which educates just over 1,700 students, has averaged 95 absent students a day this fall. On Monday, 112 students were out, a number that equals about 6.5% of the district’s students.
“Overall, our attendance was fairly strong given all the factors we are facing during the pandemic,” Burrows said.
According to Jennifer Willey, Executive Administrative Assistant to Mount Abraham Unified School District Superintendent Patrick Reen, 14% of the district’s students were absent on Monday, and 10% were out on Tuesday. Willey described those numbers as “more than typical for this time of year.”
Certainly, school administrators — and many parents — are warily following a larger set of numbers, those tracking the spread of COVID-19 in Vermont. They are also looking at residents’ responses to state health officials’ recommendations. 
“It is something we are keeping an eye on. There is a general concern that others are not necessarily following the governor’s mitigation plan,” Soule said. 
“But at the same time, everyone wants schools to stay open. We know our students are benefiting academically, and socially/emotionally from in-person instruction. It is imperative that we come together as a community so we don’t have to take more restrictive measures.”

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