YARMOUTH, NS – The superintendent of the Tri-County Regional School Board says they have seen an overall improvement in the attendance rate of students so far this school year compared to other years.
The province implemented a provincewide attendance policy this school year. The policy outlines what is an acceptable excused absence for students and does have consequences for students who miss a large number of classes at the high school level. Beyond a certain threshold these students run the risk of losing a high school credit.
But the policy is aimed more at providing support to students who are missing class and working with them to understand why they are missing school and to help them improve their attendance.
At the TCRSB January monthly meeting, superintendent Paul Ash expressed thanks to schools and students, saying when they did a review in November of attendance stats, “We did see an overall improvement in the attendance rate of our students across the board.”
Students in high school risk losing a credit if they miss 20 per cent of class time, or 22 classes. Ash said the number of students losing a credit is not high.
“It’s been relatively small, and based on numbers that we’ve had at principals’ meetings, it’s very evident that people have done everything within their power to support students,” he said.
Still, Ash added, unfortunately there are students for whom school is just not where they want to be and even with the supports being provided there are situations where things won’t always work out.
Ash and TCRSB school board chair Michael Drew noted the board is also exploring other options when it comes to keeping students engaged in school. They recently met with local Nova Scotia Community College principal Mary Thompson and one of the things discussed was an alternate school program.
“We talked about having some kind of plan to help or address students who are at risk, in light of our provincial attendance policy. These are red zone kids, and we talked about an alternate school,” Drew said, referring to it as an alternate program for students who are at risk of not completing school.
“(It would be) to encourage them to stay in school through perhaps a more hands-on program, or a program that would be more suited to their needs,” Drew said.
Meanwhile, another area that Ash pointed to that worked out well this school year was a new process around work-term placements. He said during the start of the lobster fishery they had around 140 students off on work-term placements, which allowed these students to work in the lobster industry on board boats and at plants. He said this was beneficial to the students and the fishing industry and schools worked with the students to ensure any disruption to their education was as minimal as it could be.