LOW MOOR — As part of its ongoing efforts to address chronic absenteeism, Alleghany Highlands Public School has launched a friendly competition among schools.
The AHPS School Attendance Competition kicked off Nov. 1. It’s designed to be a fun way to encourage students to attend school regularly.
“We decided to organize a friendly rivalry among all of our schools in the division to see which school has the best attendance each month,” said Cindy Fox, supervisor of customized learning for AHPS.
Fox’s duties include overseeing the monitoring of student attendance throughout the school division.
Each month, AHPS will recognize the school that records the best attendance. Celebrations at the winning school will include ice cream during lunch, popcorn, and other fun treats. During the celebration, the student with the most improved attendance, and students who have missed less than 10 percent of school days, will spin an attendance wheel to win special prizes.
To make it equitable among schools, AHPS will use the daily average attendance, a percentage figure, to determine the winning school.
“Attendance is a challenge,” Fox said. “It is a proven fact that students who do not come to school on a regular basis miss out on educational opportunities. We want our students to feel connected to their schools.”
AHPS and school divisions throughout Virginia have been battling chronic absenteeism since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Chronic absenteeism in the Commonwealth nearly doubled from the 2018-2019 school year to the 2022-2023 school year, jumping from 9 percent to 17 percent. To be considered chronically absent, a student has missed at least 18 days (10 percent) of a school year.
During the 2022-2023 school year, chronic absenteeism in Alleghany Highlands Public Schools ranged from 18 percent at Sharon Elementary School to 39 percent at Alleghany High School.
“We want parents to encourage their children to come to school. If a student has to miss a day due to sickness, doctor appointment, or other reasons, we urge parents to call the school their child attends or send in a note stating why they are absent,” Fox said.
Parents with questions about AHPS’ attendance policy should contact Fox at (540) 863-1726. A recent infusion of resources from Governor Youngkin’s ALL In Virginia plan is helping AHPS support regular school attendance. The plan encourages literacy, catching up from pandemic learning loss, and attendance.
The Alleghany Highlands Public Schools Division was formed on July 1, 2022, when Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center merged. The school division is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington. It serves approximately 2,700 students.
AHPS news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools and on Instagram at ahpublicschools. Information is also available at www.ahps.k12.va.us.
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