As schools continue to recover from the pandemic, there’s one troubling COVID symptom they can’t seem to shake: record-setting absenteeism.

In the 2021-22 school year, more than one in four U.S. public school students missed at least 10% of school days. Before the pandemic, it was closer to one in seven, the Associated Press reported, relying on data from 40 states and the District of Columbia.

In New York City, the nation’s largest district, chronic absenteeism hit 40%, according to district officials, meaning some 375,000 students were regularly absent. In Washington, D.C., it hit 42.5%. In Detroit, it was 77%.

While many policymakers have cited disconnection from school as a key reason for the problem, others say it has different causes unique to the times we’re in — causes that educators have rarely had to deal with so fully until now, from the death of caregivers to rising teacher absences and even, for older students, a more attractive labor market.

Here, according to researchers, school officials and parents’ organizations, among others, are six hidden (and not-so-hidden) reasons that chronic absenteeism rates remain high.

  1. Worsening mental health
  2. Death of caregivers
  3. Teacher absences
  4. Remote assignments
  5. A higher minimum wage
  6. Better record-keeping

Read the full article about absenteeism crisis by Greg Toppo at The 74.