Giving Compass' Take:

• In Detroit, schools and community organizations are addressing chronic absenteeism by running a campaign to ensure students are enrolled during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• How can COVID-19 offer a chance for schools to create innovative solutions to problems like chronic absenteeism? 

• Read more about chronic absenteeism strategies during COVID-19. 

In a city with high rates of chronic absenteeism, schools and community organizations are working together to make sure parents get their students enrolled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With just days before the start of the school year, Detroit school district officials say they haven’t been able to reach 10% of their students this summer to enroll them for the new school year, and charter officials say they’re having similar problems.

During a press conference Tuesday morning, school and community leaders announced continued efforts to enroll students that include visiting parent homes and setting up neighborhood pop-up sites. The press conference was organized by the Every School Day Counts Detroit, a group that has been working for years to improve attendance in the city.

The campaign is targeting students who have yet to inform their schools whether they’ll be taking in-person or online classes, and students haven’t yet enrolled. If parents don’t enroll their children, it’s difficult for schools to plan teaching assignments and class schedules, and parents will lack the information they need to get their children off to a strong start.

Students who are chronically absent, meaning they miss 18 or more instructional days each year, could struggle more academically. Those students also are more likely to drop out of school.

Detroit has one of the worst rates of chronic absenteeism compared to other U.S. metropolitan areas. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 70% of the students in the Detroit district were chronically absent. The rate improved to 63% in 2019, after the district launched several initiatives, including putting an attendance agent in every school. Chronic absenteeism is also a problem for some of the city’s charter schools.

Read the full article about chronic absenteeism by Eleanore Catolico at Chalkbeat Detroit.