Iowa Co. schools navigate sick days, excused absences

School districts are notifying parents to clarify unexcused absences.
With any cough or sniffle, parents are questioning whether or not to keep their children home from school.
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 6:20 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2021 at 7:39 PM CST
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IOWA CO., Wis. (WMTV) - With any cough or sniffle, parents are questioning whether or not to keep their children home from school.

Nicole Sass decided to have her son, Finley, miss a few days earlier this school year.

“He had covid symptoms,” said Sass. “So obviously, he wasn’t going to school with a cough and all that.”

The 5-year-old is a kindergartner at Pecatonica Elementary School.

Sass says her family is dealing with another wave of sickness after she tested positive for COVID-19 meaning her son has to miss 10 days of school after he was around a positive case.

Sass says she’s worried about what this means for her son’s attendance record, especially after she received a truancy warning letter from his elementary school.

“I just don’t know what’s going to come out of that all,” said Sass.

The Pecatonica School District Superintendent Dani Scott says the letter are a way to communicate with families.

“We want to try and intervene as early as possible when we start seeing those early warning signs that maybe a student isn’t attending as much as they need to,” said Scott.

She says the truancy warning letters follow guidelines outlined by the Department of Public Instruction.

Sass says she plans to follow-up with the school’s principal and staff to resolve the absences marked as unexcused.

Scott adds that an explanation for why a student missed school can forgive those absences.

“We track student absences to determine whether or not there is any habitual truancy there, then we can automatically take out those COVID related absences,” said Scott. “Those are not counted against the student at all.”

At Barneveld Schools, Superintendent Joe Price says most students are showing up for class.

“As far as additional absences or chronic absenteeism, I don’t think we’re seeing it higher than it was in previous years,” said Price.

He says the goal is to have students in the classroom whenever possible.

“We want students to be in person,” said Price. “They need to be here because that’s where the learning happens.”

Scott says in the Pecatonica School District there’s also a push to have students safely in-person.

“The one thing that is a limited resource for us with any student is the amount of time we actually have them with us and in front of educators,” said Scott.

So far this school year, the Pecatonica School District has only had 12 students and two staff members test positive for COVID-19.

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