Bay District Schools recognizes Attendance Awareness Month

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BAY COUNTY, FL -- (WTVY) According to the nationwide initiative "Attendance Works," chronic absenteeism as early as kindergarten can predict lower test scores and lack of retention later in a student's career.

"We realized that we needed to put in more effort," Amanda Roberts, Instructional Specialist for Student Services for Bay District Schools, said.

Bay District Schools leaders put effort into Attendance Awareness Month.

The district is working to recognize factors contributing to absenteeism such as lack of clean clothing and food, as well as transportation.

"A lot of times, parents are working two jobs and they're not home. They're not able to get there to get their child awake for school," Roberts said.

Schools have also implemented initiatives to raise attendance awareness.

One of those initiatives is sending home "nudge cards," which are postcards sent home to remind students and families about accumulating absences.

Individual schools also started their own methods to encourage attendance.

"Each morning on the announcements we have what's called 'Attendance Shout-outs,' so the class the day before that had perfect attendance, we'd call out their name and at the end of each week, we actually have plaques that we pass around," Clint Whitfield, Principal of Tommy Smith Elementary, said.

Bay District Schools leaders urge parents and guardians to notify their child's school if they are having difficulty getting the student to school.

"If we know of a need that they have and they reach out to us, then we can help them. We can help with those barriers too, so we really want them to know that they can come to us and let us help them," Roberts said.

Roberts told us if people in the community would like to help students prepare for school, they can donate school clothes and alarm clocks to the district for families who cannot afford them.

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