Regular attendance at school is vital to ensure a student’s academic success, as well as their future health and yet more than 6.5 million U.S. kids miss more than 15 days of school each year. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hopes to change that with new guidelines to prevent chronic absenteeism in schools.

According to the AAP, missing a lot of school not only leads to poor academic performance, but it can also increase the risk of unhealthy behaviors as teens and adults, such as smoking and substance use. This is why the AAP is recommending that preventative steps be taken in treating chronic absenteeism as a health risk.

photo: Element5 Digital via Unsplash

The new AAP report, “The Link Between School Attendance and Good Health,” highlights some effective steps to help improve attendance at schools, including proper hygiene and hand-washing, school-located vaccination programs and access to nurses and counselors. Some of the AAP recommendations to pediatricians are:

  • Stressing the importance of regular attendance starting in preschool by checking school absences with parents at well-visits;
  • Encouraging parents to make the school nurse aware of any health concerns;
  • Providing clear guidance on when kids should stay home due to illness and when it’s safe to go to school;
  • Avoiding writing medical excuses for absences when they are not necessary and encouraging parents to send kids back to school as soon as they are all enough.

Check out the full report for more recommendations here.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

 

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