While students and teachers were thrust into remote learning in the second half of the 2019-2020 school year, worries emerged about student attendance and retention while they were at home.
Turns out, the worries were justified. Chronic absenteeism rates, where a student misses 10% or greater of the total number of days enrolled in the school year for any reason, for the current school year remains far above pre-pandemic levels, according to state data.
The CT Mirror reported in January that total rates had increased in the current school year due to the “triple threat health issue,” which includes COVID-19, the flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).
However, in January, data for the current school year was only available up to December. Recently released April data signals an overall decrease in the current school year.
The total student chronic absenteeism rate was 21.8% in the 2022-23 school year as of April, down from 23.7% the previous year, but far from the 12.2% rate from the 2019-20 school year.
The reversal can be attributed to the chronic absentee rate dropping for students with high needs, who make up 50.8% of the student population in the state. High needs students are English learners, those with free and reduced-price lunch, those experiencing homelessness and those with a disability. Their rates dropped from 34% to 29.8%.
Meanwhile, rates for students without high needs saw a narrower increase than the January data showed, going from 12% in the school year starting in 2021 to 14% in the current school year.