As parents and students across Southeast Idaho are preparing for the first day of school, so are school officials.
This year, School District 25 in Pocatello and Chubbuck is focusing its efforts on increasing attendance and bettering communication with parents during safety issues.
Parents may have noticed an announcement sent out on Tuesday about the district’s new campaign, called “Every Day Matters.” District officials hope this will encourage parents to prioritize their child’s attendance, and in turn, reduce the amount of absences in this upcoming school year.
One in six students are missing too many days of school each year, according to the Department of Education. Once the child reaches high school, they’re more likely to miss even more school.
“Studies also show that chronic absenteeism can be a really clear indicator of students dropping out from the sixth grade, on,” said Courtney Fisher, SD25’s communications and community relations official.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of classes in a year. For SD25, that adds up to about 18 days a year, or two days each month.
In the 2015-2016 school year, district 25 had a little more than 11 percent of students chronically absent. District 91 in Idaho Falls had almost 29 percent, according to the DOE.
That’s why district 25 is reminding parents how critical school is for students.
“Scheduling appointments for anything health related or medical related, unless it’s a really severe health issue, you know, try to keep those appointments outside of school hours or do it on school breaks,” Fisher said.
Once parents do send their kids off to school, they want to know their children are safe. To ensure that, last year, SD25 mandated that every door to get into a school stay locked during class time.
“Parents will have noticed that we have the video monitors, video doorbells that you ring in to the school. That went over exceedingly well last year,” Fisher said.
School visitors are required to check in at the front desk with a photo ID every time they visit a school.
“That way we just know exactly who’s in our school, what time, what purpose they’re there for,” Fisher said.
This year, they’re taking it a step further. The district is working with local law enforcement to simplify the language used during safety protocol.
“So that when parents hear ‘hall check’ for instance, when we have a safety incident at one of the schools, they will know exactly what’s going on in that school,” Fisher said.
Officials hope this will lessen any worries parents may have if a school emergency does happen.
“Those alerts are never fun to get when you have safety incidents at schools. So, I feel this language and us adopting it, having a seamless language between law enforcement, school building personnel, and the public at large will really help to alleviate some concerns,” Fisher said.
Classes begin for SD25 on Monday, Aug. 26 for grades 1-12, and on Tuesday, Aug. 27 for kindergarten. More information about back to school can be found here.
In SD91, classes begin Monday, Aug. 26 for grades K-9, and on Tuesday, Aug. 27 for grades 10-12. Their calendar can be seen here.
Blackfoot School District 55 begins classes on Wednesday, Aug. 28 for grades K-9, and Thursday, Aug. 29 for grades 10-12. Their calendar can be viewed here.