The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

My experience being chronically absent

A couple of months ago, I had a meeting where I was told that I was deemed “chronically absent”. What a surprise…not. My absences had finally caught up to me and it was time to lock in.

According to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), a student is chronically absent when they have been absent 10% or more of the days they are enrolled in school.

Which honestly isn’t extreme. At that standard, missing about 2 days of school per month will earn you the title of “chronically absent.”

I was told that I needed to be marked present every single day until I graduated. This is a real challenge if you think about it, especially considering my serious case of senioritis. 

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No excused absences. No breaks. No sick days…thank goodness I started taking a multivitamin. And no way around it. 

I thought my diploma was on the line. 

Well, apparently, I was given the wrong impression at first. 

Recently, I was minding my own business in class when yet again, suddenly I was called to

the front of the room to have a conversation in the hallway with someone I had never met before but somehow already knew me.

They wanted to talk about my attendance. My heart dropped. 

I started to defend myself, stating confidently that I had been at school every single day since that fateful conversation that felt as though it was determining my future.

To my surprise, the topic of this conversation was about something called “flexible instruction time”. And the person talking to me, a member of the attendance support team, was trying to help me verify some. 

This year, the VDOE is allowing chronically absent students to earn back up to 15 days of attendance using “flexible instruction time.”

Since quarantine, the rates of absenteeism have skyrocketed and this is the VDOE’s last attempt to bring them down at the end of the year.

Flexible instruction time is outlined by the VDOE as students being “engaged in instruction tied to Virginia content standards that is consistent with the curriculum the student missed during the regular school day.”

Every three hours spent outside of the regular school day working with a teacher on something consistent with the curriculum a student missed while absent can earn back a full day of attendance. 

An offer I will happily accept if it means that the words “chronically absent” will be removed from my transcript.

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About the Contributor
Aya Al-Ariqi
Aya Al-Ariqi, Editorials Editor
Senior, Aya Al-Ariqi is in her 3rd year on the A-Blast staff. Her current position is Editorials editor and previous positions include co-in-depth editor and staff writer. In her free time, she enjoys thrifting, hiking, and spending time with her friends and family. Next year Aya hopes to study communications with a concentration in media production at VCU.

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