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Richmond Schools adjust attendance policy for students amid COVID

Richmond School Bus 3.png
Posted at 11:03 PM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 23:25:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Public School leaders say they've made significant progress in just two weeks when it comes to attendance numbers. They also made adjustments to their attendance policy for students this year.

RPS reported on Monday that there have been 650 no-shows since the beginning of the school year.

While this is still a fairly high number, it's down from 2,400 two weeks ago. Of those 650 students who are still not in class 150 are due to parent refusal because of the pandemic.

On Monday, the board unanimously voted in favor of one small change in the attendance policy.

RPS will maintain the policy that says high schoolers who are absent for 18 days, or 10% of the school year, will not receive course credit and middle and elementary school students may be held back.

However, after Monday night's vote, RPS will exclude from the count of 18 days any excused absences. Since the division has been telling students to stay home this year if they experience symptoms of COVID-19, their goal is to make sure attendance rules for legitimate sickness or quarantining don't count against students.

Students will still need documentation for it to be considered an excused absence.

"The regular policy which lists the regular timeline of five days to provide documentation would continue to remain intact," said RPS Chief Engagement Officer Shadae Thomas Harris.

What passed on Monday night was a change from the superintendent's proposal at RPS' last meeting asking for a complete waiver of the policy.

At that time several board members expressed concern feeling there was potential for abuse of a full waiver and that that would also undermine division efforts to improve attendance.