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Coachella Valley schools battle chronic absenteeism

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COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - Low attendance in schools is becoming a more common case, with the Justice Department deeming it a crisis last year, with more than 200-thousand students involved.

Schools in the Coachella Valley are trying to battle chronic absenteeism, but how do you know if your student falls under that category.

Cathy Bennett, a coordinator for Child welfare and attendance at Desert Sands Unified School District says,  when a student misses 10 percent or more of the school, that falls in the chronic absenteeism category. That 10 percent of a 180 day school year turns out to be 18 days. 

Bennett says attendance is crucial during the elementary years are crucial. Students that are the most prevalent to chronic absenteeism are kindergartners and first graders. "Some of it has to do with parent education just no the awareness.They don't always make the connection of, my child missing school today and next week can impact their dreams for their child to graduate school, being productive, having a good job, and graduating from college."

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Here's what parents should know if their student is too sick to attend school. If the child has a fever over 100 degrees, is experiencing vomitting or diarrhea, or a contagious illness, then those show be the only reasons to not attend class.

Aurora Jimenez, an attendance facilitator with DSUSD, recommends parents only take their student out of class only for part of the day. With classes focusing on multiple subjects, it will be difficult for students to play catch up when they return.

Jairy Cazares, a ninth grader, knows first hand on the downsides of missing class. "It's kind of stressful because they only give you one day to do everything and then struggling to get back into school is kind of hard."

According to a national attendance study by Attendance Works, students who are chronically absent between 8th and 12th grade are more likely to drop out of high school.

Jimenez encourages parents to track their students absences with a calendar to prevent them from becoming a statistic.

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