When students are absent, doing some of the work at home from that day can help, but it can never come close to replacing the experience of actually being in school. They miss a whole lot when they miss a whole day of school and are instantly behind. I don’t use a lot of worksheets, so missing school means they are missing out on the interactions and discussions when most of the learning takes place, which is hard to make up. When there are a lot of absences, the time I have to spend administering remediation for the absent students when they return to school can take away from progressing the lessons with the rest of the class. Obviously kids unfortunately sometimes get too sick to come to school, unexpected things come up, and sometimes certain family events are more important than school that day. But those occasions are usually pretty rare.

State law mandates that public and charter schools record all reasons for all student absences. Per ALA policy, absences will only be excused due to:

  • Contagious illness (e.g., fever, chicken pox, strep throat, vomiting and/or diarrhea, eye infections, flu, COVID, parasitic infections such as lice or scabies) or when they’re too sick or injured to learn effectively in school. Students should return to school as soon as they recover from an illness. “Rest” days after an illness are only excused with a doctor’s note. If the illness is more than 2 days, a doctor’s note is required. Children with colds and/or coughs who have no fever do not need to stay home. A sore throat with cold symptoms is most likely a non-contagious viral infection and school does not need to be missed for that unless they also have a fever or they are coughing/blowing their nose so much that they won’t be able to pay attention or it would disturb the class.
  • Medical appointments that must be made during the school day (note may be required)
  • Religious observances (documentation required)
  • Family emergencies or major family events (death, court appearance, etc.)
  • Out-of-school suspensions

All other absences are considered unexcused. Family vacations and extended holidays outside of scheduled school breaks will be considered unexcused, unless receiving prior authorization by an Administrator with plans to complete all classwork within the excused timeframe. Please check the calendar carefully when planning family vacations. I have had so many parents tell me that “they didn’t realize when spring break/fall break was” and scheduled a full-week vacation right before or after a break.

An unexcused absence will count as a truant day as defined by Arizona Revised Statutes A.R.S. 15-802 and 15-803. A student is “habitually truant” if he/she has five or more unexcused absences per school year. A student that is absent more than ten percent (18 days) of the required number of school days per school year is considered to have “excessive absences” whether the absence is excused or unexcused.

For excused absences, students have an additional day to complete and turn in any missed work that can be completed outside of class. It is their responsibility to write down what the homework was the day(s) they missed by copying that day in their planner from another student’s planner and getting a stamp for that day. Their missed classwork and homework will be left on their desk unless a sibling or parent picks it up on the day of the absence.

To avoid unexcused absences, please plan family vacations during school breaks. This year there are five 3-day weekends, a 10-day break in October, a 5-day Thanksgiving break in November, a 16-day Christmas break in December/January, and a 10-day break in March (starting with a half-day Thursday and Friday off). Please be extra careful not to plan any absences in the days just prior to or just after the long breaks. These breaks are already so long that they break up the continuity and students begin to forget what they have learned. In addition, the days before the break are the end of grading periods, and the days after are the beginning of grading periods…very important times for students to be in attendance.

If your child does need to miss school, please email me as soon as you know about it so I can plan accordingly, even if you have informed the office. They do not pass absence information on to us. It also helps me so much to know why they’re absent. I do worry about them when I don’t know why they’re not there or when they will return. Even if it’s not until the morning of the day of their absence, please send me an email. This also lets me know that they for sure won’t be coming that day and I shouldn’t wait for them before we start.

Early pick-ups that I don’t know about in advance can be very disruptive. Please only pick up your child from school early when it is absolutely necessary, and in those situations, please, whenever possible, let me know in advance that you will be picking them up early by sending me a quick email or sending a note in with them (asking your child to inform me verbally usually results in misinformation). This helps so much. Every time our classroom phone rings and the secretary tells me that so-and-so is going home and I didn’t know about it before, I have to stop class, help them get their planner ready and homework together, and send them on their way. If I know about it in advance, I can help them get ready to leave during a break and when you get here, they’re all ready to go and I don’t have to stop teaching. Please try to schedule dentist and doctor appointments after school hours whenever possible. I know this is not always possible, but when it is, it sure helps!

A student is considered tardy if he or she is not present in their classroom for instruction by 8:00am. It is advised that students arrive on campus by 7:55am in order to make it to their classroom on time. Parents/Guardians or an authorized person must physically sign their late students in at the front office upon arrival if they arrive after 8:00am. A tardy will be considered excused for the same reasons as excused absences above. The administration may excuse tardies at their discretion for situations such as late buses, weather, etc. that may not be of the student/guardian’s own volition. Parents will be notified via email of each unexcused tardy, and, if necessary, by telephone as required by law (page 6 of ALA K-6 Parent & Student Handbook).

Excessive tardies, excused or unexcused, may result in and not limited to; detentions, in-school suspensions, meeting with administrators/attendance contract, or further administrative action (page 6 of ALA K-6 Parent & Student Handbook).