A new toolkit from the Healthy Schools Campaign provides suggestions and guidelines to help school districts combat some of the most common health concerns that distract students from education or cause chronic absenteeism.
Chronic absenteeism — defined as missing 10 percent or more school days — affected more than 6.5 million students nationally in the 2013–2014 school year. Chronic absenteeism can be an early warning sign of school dropout, which has been linked to higher risk for unhealthy behaviors in later years.
Healthy Schools Campaign notes that many causes of chronic absenteeism are preventable, and the toolkit suggests ways to approach specific health concerns, including asthma, oral health problems, behavioral health problems, food insecurity, and acute illness.
The toolkit features
- data sources for identifying key issues in a school population;
- specific intervention programs to help prevent absenteeism; and
- a list of potential partners, such as hospitals and health systems, for school districts.
From encouraging monthly check-ins to providing in-school lessons on healthy behavior, Healthy Schools Campaign notes that hospitals and health systems nationwide have the ability to aid in the effort to reduce chronic absenteeism. Essential hospitals have made ongoing efforts to reduce student absenteeism.