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How do school districts count attendance during virtual learning?

WPTV classroom generic
Posted at 2:27 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 16:55:47-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — What is attendance in a virtual learning environment?

Is it turning in your assignments on time? Logging into your virtual classroom a couple times a week? Or just checking in with your teacher?

School districts across our area are dealing with a new way of counting attendance.

"Teenagers are reporting that 41 percent haven’t attended an online class or virtual class, and one in four actually say they’re only connecting with their teacher less than once a week," said Merve Lapus, the Vice President of Outreach and National Partnerships for Common Sense Media.

Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that's an educational source for families seeking technology and media recommendations.

Lapus said a recent poll conducted by Survey Monkey questioned 800 teenagers across the country.

"What are you assessing essentially for engagement? Are you assessing just completion of work, or just that they showed up?" said Lapus. "Showing up will need to be different for different situations, right?"

The School District of Palm Beach County said that since the first day of virtual learning on March 31, the overall attendance percentage has dropped slightly, but engagement is at 98 percent, which can mean email communication, video conferencing, work submissions, and passed tests.

Martin County schools said attendance was at 95 percent for the first two weeks of virtual learning.

St. Lucie County schools said for the first two weeks, the average attendance was 89 percent, compared to 93 percent prior to the state of virtual learning. But officials said attendance averages are increasing daily as they work to determine the individual needs of students.

The Indian River County School District said last week, it was at 96 percent engagement.

Okeechobee County's school district said its attendance mirrors a regular school day. What they are struggling with is engagement, and engagement can vary based on age group.

"We have found though in the younger ages that kids are really engaged and are joining in their classrooms when they can," said Lapus.