Attendance: When Should I Send My Child To School?

Suggestions for children 5 to 18 years of age.

When students miss too many days of school, they fall behind and struggle to keep up with their classmates. Whether the days missed are due to illness, truancy, or for any other reason, the end result for the student is the same— learning time is lost. Children and adolescents will get sick at times and may need to stay at home, but we want to work with you to help minimize the number of days your child misses school.

Missed Days Add Up Quickly!

  • Just a few missed days a month add up to several school weeks missed in a year.

  • Both excused and unexcused absences can make it more difficult for your child to keep up with other students,especially in math and reading.

  • Kindergarten and first grade are critical for your child. Missing school during these early years makes it more difficult for children to learn in later years and they often have trouble reading by the end of third grade.

Work with Your Child and Your School

  • As the parent, be strong with your child and don’t let your child stay home when it is not necessary. This will help your child succeed.
  • If your child has a chronic disease, make sure that the School Public Health Nurse and school staff are aware of the disease so the staff can assist your child if he or she becomes ill. Information about your child’s chronic disease should be noted on the school Health Information Form and the Emergency Care Form. Please also be sure to alert the School Public Health Nurse of any changes to your child’s health care needs that could impact the school day.
  • Keep an open line of communication with your School Public Health Nurse, school staff, and teachers. The more the school knows about your child’s health, the better prepared everyone will be to work together for your child.

Helpful Ideas:

  • Make appointments with the doctor or dentist in the late afternoon so your child misses as little school as possible.
  • If your child must miss school, make sure you get his or her homework assignments and follow up to see if the work is completed and turned in.
  • Call the school as soon as you know your child will be absent and tell school staff why your child will be absent, the specific symptoms your child is having, and how long your child will be out of school.
  • Be prepared to get a doctor’s note when requested by school personnel.
  • If you need medical advice after business hours, most doctors’ offices have answering services 24 hours a day to assist you.
  • If your child has an emergency, call 911.
This information is based upon recommended guidelines from reliable sources to include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, and Public Health Association.
Materials developed by the Alameda County Public Health Department.

Absences Add Up

Attending school regularly helps students feel better about school - and themselves.