North Canaan Elementary School

                                                 Dr. Alicia M. Roy, Principal                             

                 90 Pease Street,  North Canaan, CT 06018       860-824-5149                          

August 2023

Dear Families,

I trust you had a most enjoyable summer. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of students on the first day of school, Tuesday, August 29th.  I am writing to stress the importance of students coming to school every day.  Our state data from the 2022-2023 school year show that we had an excessive number of students who were categorized as chronically absent: 18.32% of our general education students (35 students) have been marked as chronically absent, and this percentage almost doubles to 36.36% (12 students) for students with a special education plan.  If your child is one of these chronically absent students, you will be receiving this letter in the mail, the truancy letter, and the number of days that your student missed last school year.  I have also placed this letter on the website under the Parents tab (see Chronic absenteeism info) so that you can read the information contained in the links.

I know that you understand that attendance at school is crucial for the success of your children.  Missing a day here and there may not seem to be a problem, but every time your child is out of school, the day is counted as missing school.  Missing two days a month—excused or unexcused—can add up to a child being considered chronically absent.   Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing 10% of in-class instruction time, which is 18 days (whether excused or unexcused) of a 180-day academic calendar.   Truancy calculations are more complicated and are included in this link.  

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, missing school days can have a great impact on your children’s health as well as negatively affect their learning.  I know that some reasons for absenteeism cannot be avoided and that we had many cases of COVID-19 in 2022 during the first half of the last school year, which account for some of the absences.  I also want you to know that children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade. For older students, being chronically absent is strongly associated with failing at school―even more than low grades or test scores. When absences add up, data show that these students are more likely to be suspended and drop out of high school. Chronic absenteeism is also linked with teen substance use, as well as poor health as adults.

The next page from the American Academy of Pediatrics contains 10 tips to help get your child to school on time every day.  Please take a few minutes to review and contact us with any questions.

Wishing us all a healthy 2023-2024 school year!

Dr. Alicia Roy

NCES Principal

from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Click the blue italic links below for more information.

  1. Set attendance goals with your child and track your child's attendance on a calendar. Try offering small rewards for not missing any school, such as a later bedtime on weekends.

  2. Help your child get a good night's sleep. A lack of sleep is associated with lower school achievement, as well as higher numbers of missed school and tardiness. Most younger children need 10-12 hours per night and adolescents (13-18 years of age) need 8-10 hours per night. Check how many hours your child needs here.

  3. Prep the night before to streamline your morning. Have your child lay out their clothes. Have backpacks and lunches packed. Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up like a missed bus or an early meeting. Have a family member, a neighbor or another trusted adult on standby to take your child to school should you ever need help.

  4. Try to schedule dental or medical appointments before or after school hours. If children have to miss school for medical appointments, have them return immediately afterward so they do not miss the entire day.

  5. Schedule extended trips during school breaks. Attending school daily helps your child stay caught up in school learning and sets the expectation for your child to be in school during the school year. Even in elementary school, missing a week of classes can set your child behind on learning.

  6. Don't have your child stay home unless they are truly sick. Reasons to keep your child home from school include a temperature greater than 101 degrees, vomiting, diarrhea, a hacking cough, toothache or a positive test for COVID-19 or other infectious illnesses. Keep in mind, complaints of frequent stomach aches or headaches can be a sign of anxiety and may not be a reason to stay home. See School Avoidance: Tips for Concerned Parents.

  7. Talk with your children about the reasons why they do not want to go to school. School-related anxiety can lead to school avoidance. Talk to your child about their physical and emotional symptoms. Try to get them to talk about any emotional struggles they may have with issues like bullying, fear of failure or actual physical harm. If you are concerned about your child's mental health, talk with your pediatrician, your child's teacher or school counselor.

  8. If your child has a chronic health issue such as asthma, allergies or seizures, talk with your pediatrician about developing a school action plan. Meet with and get to know the nurse at your child's school. 

  9. Follow the rules. If we want our children to follow rules, we must lead by example. Use this link for guidance regarding school truancy.  Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing 10% of in-class instruction time, which is 18 days of a 180-day academic calendar. 

Keep track of your child's attendance so you know when the days missed start to add up. Remember that chronic absenteeism is tracked by the state and measures total absences, including excused and unexcused. Truancy measures only unexcused absences and is also tracked by the state.