‘We Keep Trying’: Hawaii Sees Spike In School Absenteeism Due To The Pandemic…The challenge of this year is reflected in new statewide data showing 20% of Hawaii’s students are at “high risk” for chronic absenteeism.

Naalehu Elementary, a rural school near the southern tip of Hawaii island, has long struggled with chronic absenteeism, with as many as 40% of its students missing 15 or more days out of the school year in recent years.

That rate has spiked to 53% this year after the pandemic forced schools to go online and educators have struggled to reach students, especially in remote areas, due to scant broadband internet access, limited technology and other hurdles.

The Hawaii Department of Education defines chronic absenteeism as 15 or more days missed out of the school year. Officials are currently pegging students as “high risk” for chronic absenteeism based on the percent of school days missed so far in the 171-day instructional calendar year: 8.3% is their threshold.

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