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Lower Merion School District


Attendance Information for LMSD Families
Attendance Information for LMSD Families

Important Attendance Information for Families

Dear LMSD Families,

As you know, we are asking you to use the LMSD Screening Tool daily to decide whether to send your children to school. We understand that we are likely to see many more student absences this year, as the tool will instruct you to keep a child home when they have symptoms that – in years past – you might have discounted as minor. This year, our entire community must err on the side of caution and keep children at home when they have any symptoms that might indicate a case of COVID-19. It is an important component of our Health and Safety Plan and one of the ways we are mitigating the health risks for students and staff.

Because it is likely that students will have additional absences this year, we have reviewed our attendance policies and procedures. Below is information that outlines some changes and, we hope, will answer some questions about attendance for the 2020-2021 school year.

  • Taking Attendance: LMSD will continue to take attendance for both in-person and remote instruction for several reasons:
    • Safety: Tracking attendance is a safety measure that enables us to confirm that students are where they are supposed to be. If they are not, we notify a family member via our LMSD Safe Arrival system.
    • Identifying students who are at risk: Poor attendance can be an indicator that a student is at risk and may need additional supports.
    • Monitoring health trends: If particular classrooms or schools are seeing a high rate of absenteeism due to illness, isolations or quarantines, this will help inform decisions about whether additional steps must be taken.
    • Contact Tracing: being able to confirm where students are on a given day – whether they are at home or school aids in our efforts to support the MCOPH with contact tracing.
  • Changes in Attendance Practice: Because we expect parents/guardians to err on the side of caution and keep children home more often than in years past, we are making the following changes:
    • Parent/Guardian excused absences: For this year, we are increasing the number of absences that can be excused with a note from a parent/guardian from 10 to 14.
    • All absences due to quarantine or isolation orders will be excused. Children who must quarantine or isolate can continue to participate with their peers if they are well enough to do so.
      • High school students will follow their schedules via technology.
      • Middle school students will follow their schedules via technology with their at-home cohort and will be given assignments and support to maintain pacing with their in-school peers.
      • Elementary school students will participate with their at-home cohort and will be given assignments and support to maintain pacing with their in-school peers.
    • Children who are not well enough to participate with their peers will be given the opportunity to make up the work in accordance with Attachment C of Policy/AR 207 (Student Attendance)
  • LMSD Safe Arrival System: Parents and Guardians should continue to use the LMSD Safe Arrival System to notify schools of absences.
    • Absences can be reported by calling the school's attendance line or by submitting the online absence form.
    • You will receive a verification phone call, even if the absence has been reported in the LMSD Safe Arrival system. Phoning parents/guardians of students who are marked absent is an important measure undertaken by the District to ensure the safety of all of our students.
    • If you have a doctor's note that would excuse an absence, you can send the original note to the school office upon the child's return.

Finally, if you have questions about whether to keep a child home, you can reach out to Health Services or the school nurse at your child's school. But again, if there is any question about the seriousness of a child's symptoms, we urge you to be cautious and keep your child home. Teachers, principals and the District Administration are committed to being understanding of and helpful during student absences, as we all know that it will take everyone's cooperation to keep our community healthy and safe.


Robert Copeland

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