Volunteers Reach Out To Chronically Absent Students With Sunday Phone Bank

Volunteers call families of students who have missed 10 or more days of school at the Super Outreach Sunday phone bank. Screenshot via @baltcityschools on Instagram

What’s happening?

Though attendance rates at Baltimore City Public Schools have increased this school year—the first in-person school year since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic—rates of chronic absenteeism, when a student misses 10 or more days without an excuse, are also on the rise, Lilly Price reports for the Baltimore Sun. To combat this, the district organized the Super Outreach Sunday phone bank on Sep.25, where volunteers reached out to 1,300 families with chronically absent students. 

Why are more students missing school? 

Concerns about Covid-19 infections are among the primary reasons more students are regularly missing school, but others include families relocating or losing their homes, job loss, and emotional trauma, said  the district’s coordinator of the Office of Student Conduct and Attendance, Tanya Crawford-Williams. Through the phone bank outreach, the district hopes to offer families resources and solutions to manage the obstacles that may prevent students from returning to school. 

“If it’s a parent that may feel embarrassed about the number of absences—we’re not here to judge you. It’s not a punitive call. It’s really just to support you and to listen and to validate what the barrier is and to try to solve it,” Crawford-Williams said.

Anything else I should know? 

The Super Outreach Sunday phone bank is the first of its kind in Baltimore, but the district plans to host a second phone bank over the winter break to encourage students who missed the first semester of school to rejoin their classes. The district also pursues other avenues to connect with chronically absent students, including opening an “attendance hotline” to answer questions about policies; daily robocalls for students who have missed five or more days; direct outreach from the district; and hiring “summer liaisons” to mail letters, call parents, and visit students homes to assess issues that could lead to habitual absence. 

You can read more here. 

Editorial Disclaimer: Reporting for this story was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and we thank them for their support. However, the findings and conclusions presented in this article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation.

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