Hartford schools working to keep students in class every day

Hartford push to get kids back in school
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 7:49 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Eyewitness News is your back-to-school authority.

Hartford students will begin the new school year next Monday.

After attendance numbers went down during the pandemic, the district is working to make sure students are in school every day from the start of the school year.

Throughout the summer, school staff have been visiting the homes of students considered chronically absent.

On Friday, district staff canvassed communities and put up signs, reminding families school starts Monday, August 29.

“We know that having students in school and supporting their efforts is a community affair so we are here out in the community to make sure that we deliver that message,” said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools.

That message getting out with the help of school staff, visiting businesses and posting reminders inside stores and at bus stops.

“I see it as a partnership, community. We want them to know that we care for them,” said Aimara Perez, Family Community Service Provider Support

The pandemic nearly doubled chronic absenteeism rates for the Hartford school district.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10-percent or more of school days.

“And so we want to make sure that we approach this from developmentally appropriate ways because trying to change chronic absenteeism for a 5 year old, means that we have to approach the family and community, hence why we are out here today,” Torres-Rodriguez said.

Torres-Rodriguez says the district is taking a targeted approach.

“We look at our data to see what communities, what streets, what specific neighborhoods have higher levels of truancy and chronic absenteeism,” she said.

Teams have also been out throughout the summer doing home visits, speaking with students who’ve had higher levels of chronic absenteeism.

“We really want to drive those numbers up and get students in seats, get students engaging and get students back to learning and enjoying and having fun at school,” said Janelle Edwards, Student Engagement Specialist at Maria Sanchez Elementary School.

Parents say they’re ready for the new school year.

“It’ll be great. They need all the education they can get,” said Nathan, a parent.

District staff are ready to welcome students back.

Throughout the school year the district will continue driving home the importance of attendance.

There are also plenty of incentives.

Schools that have the best attendance on the first day of school will be able to win a field trip of their choice.