Schools See Spike In Student Absences Even Though Lockdowns Are Over

 Now that school lockdowns are over, schools are wondering — where are the students?

School absences have spiked since the pandemic. Now, over three years after lockdowns began, many students are simply not showing up for class.

Nearly 10% of K-12 students were missing from school on an average day during the 2022-2023 school year, according to preliminary state data reported by The New York Times.

About a quarter of students were chronically absent, meaning they missed 10% or more of school days — about three and a half weeks. Before COVID, only about 15% of students were chronically absent. About 6.5 million more students became chronically absent across 40 states and Washington, D.C., according to absenteeism data from Thomas Dee, a Stanford economist.

Black, Latino, and low-income students were more likely to be absent. Notably in some cases, absenteeism has spiked more in some blue areas where schools were on lockdown for longer during the pandemic, according to Dee’s data as well as remote schooling enrollment data from Thomas Kane, a Harvard economist.

In New Mexico, Alaska, and Arizona, where school lockdowns were longer, absenteeism rates rose by more than 20 percentage points between 2019 and 2022. California and Oregon, both of which had prolonged school lockdowns, both saw their absenteeism rates rise more than 15 percentage points between those years. Washington, D.C, which also had prolonged lockdowns, had elevated levels of absenteeism as well.

Meanwhile, states like Arkansas, Nebraska, Tennessee, and West Virginia, which went back to in-person learning more quickly, all saw absenteeism rise by below 10 percentage points.

Some analysts say one factor could be that thanks to school lockdowns, attendance now feels more optional.


“For almost two years, we told families that school can look different and that schoolwork could be accomplished in times outside of the traditional 8-to-3 day,” said Elmer Roldan, who runs a school dropout prevention group in Los Angeles.

“Families got used to that,” he said.

Another issue is parents keeping their anxious children home from school, a decision psychologists say is understandably tempting for parents but can cause more anxiety down the road.

“The most fundamental thing for adults to understand is that avoidance feeds anxiety,” Lisa Damour, a psychologist and the author of “The Emotional Lives of Teenagers,” told The New York Times.

“When any of us are fearful, our instinct is to avoid. But the problem with giving in to that anxiety is that avoidance is highly reinforcing,” she said.

Meanwhile, students are still battling significant learning loss caused by months of remote schooling. The average math and reading test scores for 13-year-olds plummeted to the lowest levels in decades, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) officials reported in June.

In some cases, students may actually be doing worse than before COVID.

Last month, a study showed that fourth through eighth-grade students made even slower progress in reading and math last year than before the pandemic, dashing hopes that kids would learn faster to make up for learning loss during COVID. At the same time, college students who were in high school during remote learning are arriving on campus unprepared. Many are struggling with basic math and have had to go back and learn the basics.

Some families also opted to pull their children out of public school for good, opting instead for charter, private, and parish schools or homeschooling. Public school enrollment numbers dropped precipitously after the pandemic began. Public schools lost 1.4 million students between fall 2019 and fall 2020, the National Center for Education Statistics reported.

Meanwhile, homeschooling rose by 30% between the school year that began in 2019 and the one that began in 2021, a study from the Urban Institute showed.

Schools See Spike In Student Absences Even Though Lockdowns Are Over Schools See Spike In Student Absences Even Though Lockdowns Are Over Reviewed by Your Destination on September 06, 2023 Rating: 5

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