Parents share frustrations about APS sick policy

[anvplayer video=”5153142″ station=”998122″]

Are you struggling with the decision on whether to send your children to school when they’re sick? It may sound like a silly question, but some metro parents say they’re keeping their sick kids home only to get messages from school officials.

According to Albuquerque Public Schools, families get these notices from Albuquerque Public Schools because students are considered chronically absent if they miss 10% of school days.

That’s about 18 days in a school year.

But parents say they’re getting this letter after their kids miss just a few days because they’re sick. KOB 4 first spoke to a concerned mother Monday, and since then, several others reached out saying they feel the same way.

One mom wrote to us, saying:

“As an APS parent, I too have been receiving the sick email from the superintendent and am very frustrated. I have received them for both of my children and they have only missed 5 and 4 days respectively. They were sick and we were following APS’s own guidelines about when to keep kids home. I do not appreciate the harassing tone of the email. Particularly when our family is being responsible and trying to stop the spread of an illness.”

KOB 4 reached out to APS Monday and Tuesday to talk about these letters and student absences. But both days we were told they could not provide any information. So we turned to the Public Education Department about whether there is any leniency given this tripledemic situation we are in.

A rep from PED pointed me to the 2019 attendance for success act. 

In a gist the bill says schools should communicate with parents or guardians if their child is chronically absent and should inform the parent about the consequences of further absences.

The bill defines chronically absent as missing 10 percent or more of classes for any reason. PED says the goal of the attendance for success act is to provide support to students and families by drawing attention to attendance and hopefully improving overall attendance in schools. 

PED’s website also has an attendance tracking dashboard. According to the site, during the last school year, schools statewide reported students had less than 10 unexcused absences on average. If that search is narrowed down to Albuquerque schools, that number drops to seven unexcused absences.

But PED does add it is important students and staff who are sick should stay home and not be at school until symptoms improve and are fever-free for 24 hours, and schools should still offer support to those students while they are out sick.

For some more context, KOB 4 also reached out to Rio Rancho Public Schools. Their spokesperson said when any of their students call out sick it does not count as an unexcused absence — so in theory, ten sick days will not automatically label a Rio Rancho student as chronically absent.

According to RRPS, the district doesn’t have a districtwide policy when it comes to requiring doctor’s notes — they say it’s handled on a case-by-case basis.