Attendance Policy

Coles Elementary School Attendance Plan

According to Virginia Law Code 22.1-256 and Prince William County Public School regulation 724-1, all children of compulsory attendance age shall be expected to attend school each day that school is in session. Parents/Guardians are responsible for ensuring that their children attend school regularly. The following attendance plan has been established to make the stakeholders (teachers, parents, students, and staff) aware of the procedures that will be followed in maintaining Virginia Law and Prince William County Public School regulations regarding attendance, tardies and early dismissals.

A. General Information
a. School begins daily at 9:20 am and ends at 4:00 pm.
b. Students are expected to be in their classrooms and ready to begin their instructional day at 9:20 am.

B. Attendance Policy Absences

Per Virginia Code 22.1 254 and the Virginia Department of Education:

Attendance has been increasingly the focus of attention among school divisions and educators. According to research regular attendance is a significant factor in a student’s success:

  • Chronic absenteeism correlates to low academic achievement.
  • Absenteeism is a powerful predictor of dropout rates.
  • Absenteeism has been linked to poor outcomes later in life.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing ten percent or more of the academic year for any reason, including excused absences, unexcused absences, and suspensions. Based on a 180-day school year, that means approximately 18 days per year or 2 to 3 days per month.

Truancy is the act of accruing one or more unexcused absences, where the parent is unaware of or does not support the student’s absence, or where the parent’s provided reason for the absence is not acceptable to the school administration.

Missed instruction, regardless of the reason, can have significant academic consequences. Therefore, the broader emphasis is on improving attendance for every student.

Absences shall be recorded as excused based on verified contact with the parent/guardian only for the following reasons:
  1. Personal illness of the student. A written note signed by the student’s medical provider certifying that the student has a bona fide medical reason for his/her absence, may be required by the school principal or his/her designee after a student has accrued 10 or more absences for the school year, and for every additional absence thereafter.
  2. Isolation of a student during a pandemic according to guidelines set forth by the Virginia Department of Health.
  3. Students experiencing mental and/or behavioral health illness, disorder, or disturbances in accordance with established school guidelines provided by the Virginia Department of Education. Students are expected to meet with their school counselor upon their return to school.
  4. Medical and dental examination and/or treatment for the student when such appointments cannot be scheduled other than during school hours.
  5. Death in the student’s immediate family (defined as father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, stepbrother or stepsister, spouse, son, daughter, or grandparent), not to exceed five consecutive days. Requests exceeding five consecutive days shall be referred to the Office of Student Services for approval.
  6. Religious, faith, or commemorative observances. School absences for the purpose of participating in these observances will not be counted against perfect attendance, nor shall the student be deprived of any other award or the eligibility to compete for any award. Students will be allowed to make up any missed work and complete any missed assessments. Students will not be required to take missed assessments or turn in missed work the day after the absence for religious, faith, or commemorative observances. Teachers will work with students on a case-by-case basis to ensure that timely access is granted to missed assessments. As a calendar supplement and resource, a listing of religious, faith, and commemorative observances potentially celebrated by students will be made accessible on school webpages and the school division website.
  7. Emergency conditions in the student’s home which require temporary help from the student in caring for sick or injured members of the student’s immediate family. However, repeated use of this excuse, or requests for absences for more than five consecutive days for such purposes, shall be referred to the Office of Student Services for approval. Students will not be excused for such reasons more than 10 cumulative days during the school year without the approval of the Office of Student Services.
  8. Parents/guardians retain the option of not permitting their child to attend school in circumstances when, in the judgment of the parent/guardian, the roads or walkways in their neighborhood are too hazardous to use. The parent/guardian shall give the school prior notice of such absence by electronic or telephone communication. In such cases, the student shall be given an excused absence, but shall be required to make up the work missed.
  9. Seniors shall be excused for the purpose of college admission visitations or to apply for post-graduation jobs. In each instance, prior approval of the principal or his/her designee shall be obtained by the student.
  10. Middle and high school students shall be excused for one school day for the purpose of engaging in a civic event. Students should provide advance notice of the intended absence when possible. Additional excused absences for this reason may be permitted at the discretion of the school principal/designee and/or the Office of Student Services.
  11. Court appearance of a student who has been served with a subpoena, summons, or court order requiring his/her attendance in court or at a deposition, or in response to the filing of criminal charges against the student. A copy of the document requiring the student’s appearance in court must be provided to the principal or his/her designee in advance of the absence.
  12. Students may be granted up to five days excused absence for the purpose of visiting with a parent/guardian who has been called to active duty, is on leave from this duty, or has immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting. The student must satisfy the requirements for an excused preapproved absence as set forth below.
  13. Preapproved absences are discouraged and will only be granted on a case-by-case basis by the principal or his/her designee. We encourage family trips to be scheduled during school holidays and over summer break. Absences for family trips will not be excused unless accompanied by extraordinary circumstances. A determination of whether extraordinary circumstances exist lies in the discretion of the principal, in collaboration with the Office of Student Services. Preapproved absences which become excessive in length may result in the absences being marked unexcused and a referral made to the attendance officer for compliance with the compulsory education laws. Preapproved absences that are extended by the student/parent/guardian beyond 15 consecutive school days will result in the withdrawal of the student from school in accordance with Virginia Department of Education regulation. In order for any preapproved absences to be classified as excused, the principal will consider the following:
    1. The principal/designee must be notified in writing of the request for preapproval, of the reason for the absence, and the duration of the absence within a reasonable time prior to the absence;
    2. Grades; and
    3. Attendance records.
    Due to the varied demands on teachers for make-up work, teachers shall have discretion to determine the type/amount of work and when students shall make up work for preapproved absences.
Unexcused Absences
  1. The following shall be classified as unexcused absences:
    1. All-day truancy;
    2. Class truancy;
    3. Missing a ride, a bus, or car trouble;
    4. A virtual only student who does not sign in for live instruction for the class or school day using Canvas;
    5. A virtual only student who has not requested and been approved by the teacher and/or administrator for alternate attendance/participation procedures due to unique circumstances and does not turn on the camera or cannot be seen by the teacher during instruction and learning activities for the class or school day;
    6. Prearranged absences without proper prior notification or without justification and prior approval; and
    7. Failure to timely produce an appropriate explanation for an absence or requested documentation.
  2. Justification of Absences. A written statement signed by the parent/ guardian or electronic communication from the parent/guardian which provides the reason for the absence is the preferred method of verifying a justifiable absence. Alternate means of verification may include telephone or other electronic contact with the parent/guardian, parent/guardian conference with the principal or designee, a written certification signed by the student’s medical provider, or such other methods as are deemed adequate by the principal. (School staff shall preserve all verification of absences and documentation of parental contacts regarding attendance for five years, as required for compliance with Virginia’s record retention and compulsory attendance laws.)
  3. All explanations of absences must be received by the school no later than the fifth day after the absence, and any changes made, as necessary, in the student information system. Failure to produce an appropriate explanation for an unverified absence by the fifth day shall result in an unexcused classification (UAB) unless the explanation of absence has been accepted by the principal by that time.
  4. A student whose absence is unexcused is still expected to make up all missed assignments and assessments. Parents/guardians should become aware of the school’s guidelines for turning in late or missing assignments. These assignments must be completed within the timeframe established by the school.

Parent Responsibilities:
• Call the Absentee Line (703-794-2410) and state the name of the student that will be absent, his/her homeroom teacher’s name, and reason for the absence.
• Upon the student’s return to school, send a written notice regarding the student’s absence. Student Responsibilities

Student Responsibilities
• To obtain and complete all missing assignments (both classwork and homework) within a timely fashion. (i.e. if you are absent one day, you have one day to complete your work. If you are absent two days, you have two days to complete your work, etc.)

All students that arrive to school after 9:20 AM are considered tardy and must be accompanied by an adult to the office to be signed in. The student will be given a tardy pass, noting the reason for the tardy, whether it is excused or unexcused, and escorted to his/her classroom.
An excused tardy is one for the following reasons as it states in Prince William County Regulation 724-1:
1. All items for excusing absences as listed above.
2. Emergency situations arising from unusual weather conditions.
3. All tardies resulting from late buses shall be excused. Tardies to school due to the late arrival of a bus shall be recorded separately from tardies for other reasons.

Parent Responsibilities:
• Escort child into the building.
• Sign the tardy binder giving child’s name and reason for tardy.

Early Dismissal
Students leaving school early must have a note explaining the reason for early dismissal. The parent or guardian must come in to the office, provide the proper ID, and sign-out their child. Please leave ample time for student to be retrieved from the classroom. Students will not be called down to wait for a parent. If the student returns to school before the end of the day, the parent or guardian must escort the student into the building and sign the student in. The student will receive a return slip and be escorted to class.

Work Habits and Absences
Students will have same number of days to complete assignments missed during an excused absence as the student was absent (one for one, two for two, etc.). If students accumulate 10 excused or unexcused absences and are not completing missed assignments, they may be considered for retention, unless otherwise suggested by the teacher.

Attendance Standards
If a student is tardy for an accumulation of 360 minutes, then they have missed a full day of school. If a student is taken out of school (early dismissal) for an accumulation of 360 minutes, then this is equivalent to a full day of school.

Parent Notification
Parents will be notified of their child’s absences through automatic communication. Letters will be sent home as stated above for attendance issues.