You can’t teach kids if they’re not in class.
With more than 27,000 students heading back to St. Louis Public Schools next week, as well as many of the city's charter and private schools starting classes, officials are reinforcing that point. Because, they say, lost learning time only leads to lost potential.
For example, of the 604 students held back a grade in St. Louis Public Schools last year, roughly one in five missed the first day of school. Of that same group of students, 20 percent missed enough days to be considered chronically absent, which is defined as missing roughly three and a half weeks of school for any reason. As St. Louis Public Radio has previously reported, chronic absenteeism can create a string of other problems.
“These students who miss school are more likely to fall behind, more likely to be retained and more likely to drop out of school,” said Kelvin Adams, superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools.
As he has in the past, Adams plans to visit churches this weekend and ask community members to make sure kids get to class. The district will also be calling and texting families in an effort to get the school year off to a strong start.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said the city also has its eye on curbing chronic absenteeism. To help do that the city is giving its employees some extra time away from work on Monday to make sure their children get to school. He encouraged other employers in the city to do the same.
“Unemployment, crime, drug abuse, these things are often interconnected,” Slay said. “And often the path begins when children start skipping school early in life.”
Slay is also reminding motorist that they’ll see more children and busses on Monday and asking people to drive cautiously.