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Truancy and Attendance

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Must a Student Attendance Improvement Conference (SAIC) be conducted for truant students, regardless of whether the student is attending in-person, blended, or full remote learning?

Yes. Schools must enforce compulsory attendance requirements in the School Code, regardless of the instructional delivery model utilized. The SAIC is designed to determine the root cause of a student's truancy and to create solutions for improved attendance. The school's process for offering and conducting SAICs should be adapted as necessary to address all instructional delivery models offered by a school and to maintain appropriate COVID mitigation measures.  
Does the new compulsory attendance age (6 years old until a student reaches 18 years of age) apply to all school settings this year?

Yes, effective with the 2020-21 school year, a child must comply with compulsory attendance requirements from age 6 to age 18, regardless of the school setting in which they are enrolled or instructional delivery model they are receiving. Compulsory attendance applies to children enrolled in all public schools, including charter and cyber charter schools, as well as privately tutored and homeschooled children.

Should schools drop students from active membership after 10 days of consecutive absence?

Schools should conduct a thorough investigation before removing a student with 10 consecutive absences from active membership. The investigation should document efforts by the school to contact the student's parent or guardian. Once a determination is made regarding the absences, students must be removed from the active membership roll for 10 days of consecutive absence unless one of the following occurs:

  • The school has been provided with evidence that absence may be legally excused; or

  • Compulsory attendance prosecution has been or is being pursued.

Is there an allowable transition time for students choosing to enroll in a new type of school program from another school program?

No. A school must normally enroll a child the next business day, but no later than five business days, upon a school's receipt of the required documentation. The current school must keep students enrolled and actively engaged in learning until the current school has confirmed a new enrollment date with the transitioning school. Schools can then begin to plan for a proper student transfer to occur in compliance with the above guidance.

Must schools provide written attendance policies, inclusive of student absence note submission information, to all parents/guardians, regardless of the instructional delivery model their child/children are receiving? 

Yes. The school's written attendance policy must be distributed to parents/guardians annually. As transition between instructional delivery models occurs, schools must make caregivers aware of all relevant attendance polices and adjust absence note submission processes to meet the needs of all students. Schools are strongly encouraged to make this information available in a language that is understandable by both the student and their caregiver.
Are parents/guardians responsible for submitting absence notes/excuses for virtual instruction non-attendance?

Yes. Caregivers must submit a note regarding the reason for a student absence for all instructional delivery options. Schools should consider a variety of methods for submission of excuse notes; ensure caregivers are routinely informed of any changes to those policies; and provide specific examples of what is considered excused and not excused in blended, virtual, and full in-person instructional settings.
Additional Resources:

PA Roadmap on Attendance
PDE's Student Enrollment FAQs
Attendance Works Chronic Absenteeism
PDE Truancy BEC