BHS Absence Rates: How Does Healthcare Play a Role?

Absences+in+January

This chart shows the absences at Batavia High School over the month of January.

Chelsea Gates

The Winter season at Batavia High School has been marked by a noticeably large number of absences, early dismissals, and late arrivals. It seems that there is a contingent of Batavia students that is reluctant–or perhaps unable–to have regular attendance, and administration and staff have wondered whether it’s simply a spell of common colds or other illnesses, or if there may be other factors at play.

“Well, absences are high because, especially this time of year, of health concerns. But a lot of it comes from students not being motivated enough,” says Assistant Principal Darren Stevens, when asked to comment on the subject. Stevens deals with most of the attendance data, and therefore is put in the position to schedule meetings with parents and the student to discuss declining attendance rates once a student reaches a certain amount of missed hours. He explains that his priority is to always discuss the underlying reasons for declining attendance before resorting to filing truancy charges.

Absences in January
This chart shows the absences at Batavia High School over the month of January.

On average, fifty students were absent per day in the month of January alone. The numbers of absences on a daily basis steadily remains at around 49 students on average. The highest percentage of absences is approximately 12%, and the lowest being 6%. Many worry that the steady percentage of absences could possibly be a consistent group of students that are missing school on a regular basis. This raises the question; is there more that the school district could do toward assisting students with issues that might contribute to absences, including things like mental health or lack of transportation?

When asked if it could possibly be an underlying issue with mental health, and whether changes need to be made in terms of protocol to deal with mental illness among students, Stevens says that there is only so much a school district can do to aid a mentally ill student. “We deal with mental health the best we can with the resources we have,” says Stevens. “The problem with a lot of school resources, is that the help that people need is outside of the school.”

Batavia High School, along with the Elementary and Middle schools, have an in-school Child Focus associate to aid students with mental health when needed. Weekly meetings can be scheduled, but with the amount of students that need assistance, and the limited amount of free time to delegate towards said students, not everybody receives an equal amount of time for counseling.

There is only so much help that a student can get from school resources; therefore, the best option for a mentally ill student would be to seek outside resources. However, not every parent has the insurance, economic ability, transportation, etc. to seek counseling for their child. Whether physical or mental illness, the impact of health care on students and their attendance will continue to be a factor for the school.