Attendance & Absences
Attendance at School
Regular school attendance is essential for a student to make the most of his or her education—to benefit from teacher-led and school activities, to build each day’s learning on the previous day’s, and to grow as an individual. Absences from class may result in serious disruption of a student’s mastery of the instructional materials; therefore, the student and parent should make every effort to avoid unnecessary absences.
A student can be considered absent if he or she misses all or part of the school day, including late arrival and early pick-up. Under Texas law, a student in all learning environments (In-Person, At-Home remote learning, Virtual, and Virtual Plus) must be present in each class for at least 90% of the days a class is offered. Students who don’t meet this requirement, regardless of the reason for the absence or whether excused/unexcused, will lose credit in the class. Completion of a plan determined by the principal or campus attendance committee will be required to restore credit.
Under Texas law, a student who experiences more than 3 unexcused absences (full or partial day) in a four week period or 10 unexcused absences (full or partial day) in a 6 month period, may be referred to the court for truancy. This includes unexcused late arrivals and early pick-up. Charges may also be filed against the parent in these circumstances.
What steps do I take if my child is absent?
Approval for planned absences should be requested from the campus at least one week in advance to ensure they are excused. Pre-planned absences on STAAR, EOC, or other state testing days will not be excused.
If your child will be absent for illness or another, unplanned reason, contact your campus attendance clerk by phone or email that day to notify the school of the absence.
Parents should provide a note, documenting the reason for the absence, to the school immediately upon the child’s return, and not later than three days after the absence. If the child was seen by a health care provider, a note from that individual is always preferred. If the student was present PART of the school day and missed the remainder for a health care appointment, a note from that provider should be given to the school within 3 days. In this circumstance, the time away from school is NOT considered an absence.
If a student is absent for more than four consecutive days for illness, a note from a health care provider is required to excuse the absence.
The district will accept parent notes to excuse an illness, personal, or pre-approved absence for no more than 10 full or partial day absences during the school year. Any additional absences will require a note from a health care provider or documentation of an absence exempt from compulsory attendance, in order to be excused.
It is important to take all required steps to ensure an absence will be excused. Unless the absence is for a statutorily allowed reason under compulsory attendance laws, the district is not required to excuse any absence, even if the parent provides a note explaining the absence. Unexcused absences are considered truancy and the grade for makeup work after an unexcused absence shall be zero. [See Board Policy EIA Local]
Downing Attendance Policy
If you receive a notice that your student was counted absent for one or more periods, please log into your Skyward account and view your student's attendance to determine what teacher counted them absent. If your child feels like they were counted absent in error, please tell them to talk to the teacher who counted them absent, and have the student and teacher determine if the absence is incorrect or correct. Any changes to attendance must come from the teacher to the attendance office, since the teacher and student are usually the only individuals who know the circumstances of the absence.
If you want to know if a parent or doctor note was received, please log into your Skyward account for your student and look at their attendance. It will show if an absence is excused, which will confirm that the note was received.
If your student is absent at any time during the day, he or she will need to bring back a note in order to excuse the absence. Students who go to the doctor must bring back a note from the doctor with the date and time on it. Parent notes must be signed and dated. These must be received within 3 days of the absence. Emails and phone calls are not sufficient.
Limit on Parent Notes
The district will accept parent notes to excuse an illness or personal absence for no more than 8 full or partial day absences during the school year.No more than 6 of these absences may occur in a semester. Any additional absences will require a note from a health care provider or documentation of an absence exempt from compulsory attendance in order to be excused.
The following are exemptions to the compulsory attendance requirements and will not be counted as absences with proper documentation
- Religious holy days – with a note from the place of worship
- Required court appearances
- Activities related to obtaining United States citizenship
- Documented health-care appointments or recognized services for the student or a child of the student – the student must have attended school at some point during the day in order to not be counted absent – a note from the health-care provider must be submitted upon the student’s arrival or return to campus
- For students in the conservatorship (custody) of the state,
- Mental health or therapy appointments; or
- Court-ordered family visitations or any other court-ordered activity provided it is not practicable to schedule the student’s participation in the activity outside of school hours
If a student does not bring a note back for any absence or the parent note limit has already been met, that absence will be unexcused. Per district policy, if an absence is unexcused, the student will earn a zero for any assignments or assessments missed.
Downing Middle School will not be awarding Perfect Attendance Awards for the 2021-2022 school year. A perfect attendance award can only be earned if a student is present every period of every day with no unexcused late arrivals to school.
Questions regarding the absence policy or a student’s absence may be directed to Elizabeth Cline, Attendance/Registrar in the school office.