Educators say student absentee rate has risen as distance learning arrangements persist

With online learning continuing for many districts across Arizona, absentee numbers are going up as many students don't get to their online classes. 

Across the state, the absentee rate has grown from about 3% to about 10% to 15%.

"We are seeing more absences the further we get into online learning," said Kyrene School District Emergency Management Officer Damian Nichols.

In the past couple of weeks, Kyrene School District staff members have made more than 90 home visits, meeting with students who were referred by teachers for either missing class, having a hard time engaging, having connectivity issues, or having overall frustrations with streaming.

"It can be anywhere from a few a day to a couple dozen a day," said Nichols. "It depends on the students that are identified, and the areas they need assistance with."

The district sends out school counselors, an administrator and a member of their safety team to figure out ways around roadblocks. 

"We hear everything from they're having technology issues and can't get on some of them, need a little time management to figure out how to coordinate. Others have social-emotional issues. It really depends on the family," said Nichols.

Kyrene School District isn't the only district going home-to-home - Dr. Mark Joraanstad with Arizona School administrators says teachers are going above and beyond to make sure students aren't getting left behind.

"The educators in the state have been working in difficult conditions," said Dr. Joraanstad. "They have been getting vaccinated and being heroic and educating by any means possible."