USD 266 high schools reach all-time high in chronic absenteeism

Both Maize and Maize South have reached a peak in chronic absenteeism rates since COVID, reaching more than 35 percent in 2022.


Julia Higares

Staying home from school can cause students to fall behind on schoolwork.

Cevin Montgomery, Web Editor

Maize and Maize South High Schools have reached an all-time high in chronic absenteeism, with more than a third of students at Maize South High and Maize High missing more than 10 percent of school days in a school year.

Molly Stover-Brown

The District Building Needs Assessment document revealed that absentee rates in both high schools have increased more than 13 percent in the past year, leading Maize South High to have a chronic absenteeism rate of 43.08 percent and Maize High to have a rate of 37.12 percent.

“A student becomes chronically absent when they miss more than 10 percent of the school days in a school year,” Maize South principal Becky Sailor said. “You would really have to look at how many school days a school has to get that exact number. But a good reference is if you’re missing more than ten days, that usually means you’re going to miss more than 10 percent.”

Chronically absent students have a higher risk of failing a class the more they are absent and have a lesser connection with staff.

“Research has shown that when students are chronically absent, they’re more likely to fail classes,” Sailor said. “They’re more likely not to have connections to their peers and more likely to have issues with their mental health and well-being.”

Chronic absenteeism can be caused by a wide array of issues, varying from illness to lack of motivation.

 “It can range from if a child doesn’t have the parental support to make them come to school or if there’s a student that doesn’t feel like coming to school and their parents let them stay home,” Sailor said. “That student’s going to likely become chronically abstinent at some point.” Most chronically absent students are going to be related back to health reasons, low motivation, lack of connection, or not having the support needed.”

Chronic absenteeism can be cause by several issues, ranging from mental health to transportation issues. (Mariana Penafiel Garzón)

Many students also stay home due to a lack of motivation to attend school.

“I think it’s pretty boring,” Senior Justin Combs said. ” I do think it’s necessary for people to go to school, obviously, but you know, it feels like a lot of time, every day kind of becomes the exact same, the same eight hours of school. Three days I missed, I just like completely missed the first hour. So I just said screw it, and I just didn’t show up.

Parents are allowed to call in students for any reason as long as it is done before 10 A.M.

“When a parent calls and tells us they will be absent, we have to mark it as a verified absence,” Attendance Secretary Brenda Block said. “It is important because students are only allowed a certain number of absences per block. They’re calling in for one reason or another; they’re sick or having car troubles. I just go with whatever parents tell me.”

COVID-19 is in the Building Needs Assessment as a potential cause for abnormal absenteeism rates.

“I think there are some things that with COVID, it was easier to stay home,” Sailor said. ” So I think that’s just a shift in our society and kind of our mindset that we have to start making as we move farther away from COVID.”