Letter to the Editor: Showing up matters

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Dear Editor, 

Over 35% of Prince Edward County public school students were reported chronically absent – missing 10% or more of the school year – in the first semester alone (Austin, 2023). Students need to be present in order to learn and not be behind. Students who are chronically absent are 25% further behind in math and 18% further behind in reading (Carlton, 2023). 

According to Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, mental health is the main reason students are absent. Therefore, psychologists should be licensed to work in schools. Two-thirds of high school students say they are constantly nervous, anxious, or on edge (Austin, 2023). Students need a professional to talk to about their struggles. 

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The community needs to rally together to support students’ mental health. Churches, employers, coaches, and family friends should encourage attendance. Kids are more likely to listen to their mentors. Parents are responsible for making sure their kids are going to school so that they do not miss out on valuable learning time. In order to tackle the chronic absenteeism problem, schools can provide mental health services and enlist support from the community. 

Prince Edward County Public Schools has a chronic absence problem that can be solved if the whole community rallied together to address the mental health crisis that is keeping kids out of school. Students should be able to have access to mental health resources, such as counselors. Children need to be aware of the importance of school and why showing up matters. 

Sydney Stokes