Reports have shown that about 1 to 5% of children nationwide exhibited signs of school refusal before the pandemic. Families say that coronavirus shutdowns worsened the problem.
Lori, parent to eight grader Scott, said every morning raises a stressful question for her, “Will her son go to school?” to which the answer is ‘no’ most days.
“Scott has not attended school for a full day or entire week since mid-January,” said Lori. “He said he hates math, he hates school, and doesn’t want to go.”
“There are mornings where he would get dressed and go, but not get out of the car. Sometimes he doesn’t leave the house.”
Children have days where they dread school or try to get out of going at some point in their academic career.
Studies estimate about 1 to 5 % of children nationwide exhibited signs of school refusal before the pandemic. Experts, parents, and educators said they believe coronavirus shutdowns made the problem worse. Many children were out of school buildings for an extended period of time. As such, instances of anxiety, depression and other disorders often associated with school refusal increased significantly.
In am estimated presented by Education department officials, 37% of the students in kindergarten through 12th grade could be considered chronically absent by year’s end. This is also defined as missing at least 10% of the school year which is a value higher than in 2018-19—the year before the pandemic—when it reached 26%.
Experts say the problem can be triggered by absences, illnesses, or major transitions like starting a new school.
Students refusing to attend school can drain and frustrate educators and parents alike. Without any official city guidance on how to approach refusal, the response from school administrators ranges from deep partnership with families to little or no involvement.
Education department officials have claimed that schools closely monitor trends in attendance in order to identify reasons for a student’s absence and offer interventions such as mentors and social-emotional support for students at risk of chronic absenteeism.