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  • Erica Peterson

Critical: Taking Attendance

In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, your once straightforward attendance process has become anything but standard—yet it remains critical during this time.

While most schools and teachers are attempting to check in on students, they aren’t all formally tracking student attendance. Many of our most at-risk and marginalized students remain disconnected from school during the current closures.

Tracking student attendance is the only way to identify and intervene with those students not being reached.


  • Redefine "attendance" to participation or check-ins

  • Take attendance daily by any means possible, even if it’s not through your SIS

  • In California, create a new COVID-19 attendance code to identify any absences related to COVID-19 and Texas, follow TEA’s code recommendations

  • Compile district attendance daily to determine who is not ‘showing up’


  • Send out a series of mail-based communication pieces to those not showing up

  • Notice 1: Supportive letter – we noticed your child has not logged on, pointing out support and resources available with contact information

  • Notice 2: Firmer messaging around the need to meet with the family to ensure their child can access and participate in digital learning

  • Notice 3: Firmest messaging around compulsory ed requirements and district determined steps

  • Mail parent and student support pieces with tips on how to deal with the pandemic topics like how to talk to younger grade kids about what' s happening and ways to cope with the anxiety for older kids

  • Communicate in the parent's home language


  • With data you can identify which students need support right now, as well as which students are most likely to need extra academic support later

  • Compile and analyze your data daily at the district level to give you insight and the ability to prioritize who needs more support

  • Tracking data during COVID-19 outbreak will help determine the best approach when schools re-open

Check out the supporting facts...

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With nearly two decades with School Innovations & Achievement (SI&A), Erica Peterson draws from her longstanding relationships and involvement with CSBA, COSA, TASA, and CASCWA, to offer districts insight and ways to connect strategies with proven practices. Throughout her tenure, Erica has worked with hundreds of school district executives providing solution consulting in the areas of school attendance, organizational effectiveness, special education, and state mandated program compliance.

In these unprecedented times, Erica is proud to be part of a company that has not laid off or furloughed a single employee. SI&A remains committed to supporting their district partners during the school closures and will continue to work hard for districts when schools re-open.



Want Erica's take on something? Your questions fuel the conversation in Erica’s Editorial. Let her know what’s on your mind about student attendance and she’ll respond with proven best practices or strategies that districts like yours find successful. Email your comments now!

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