Every day that a student is absent is a lost opportunity for that child or adolescent to learn, build social skills, and receive the benefits associated with the sense of community found within our schools. Chronic or prolonged absenteeism can also result in decreased academic success and related employment prospects later in life. Increased feelings of anxiety following long periods away from school are also common as students begin to worry about their grades, lost credits, catching-up on missed assignments, as well as interactions with their peers who may wonder where they have been. The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board offers the services of their Attendance Counsellor to any student at the elementary or secondary level who experiences ongoing difficulty in being present at school.
Compulsory School Attendance
Did you know that in Ontario the law states that children between the ages of six and 17 must attend school? We appreciate that sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, that might prevent attendance at school. However, these situations should be rare and the school principal will address prolonged absences.
If your child is away for more than 15 days consecutively due to illness, a medical note will be needed to maintain your student on the school register.
There are many supports in place to encourage regular school attendance, including school counsellors, social workers, community agencies and an attendance counsellor. Please contact the school if you have questions or concerns.
Reporting Your Child Late or Absent
Please follow this simple, but critical process when reporting your child as late or absent.
Step 1 – phone the school at any time, to inform us when your child will be absent or late. There is a message machine 24 hours per day.
Step 2 – leave your child's full name, teacher’s name and the reason for the absence on the school answering machine.
Step 3 – when your child returns to class, provide the teacher with a note explaining the reason for your child’s absence
Step 4 – if you child is late, please direct them to the office where they will check-in and be provided a late slip for admittance to class
Students who are leaving school early must bring a note to their teacher stating the need for the early dismissal. Please avoid any last minute early dismissals. We do not want to interrupt the learning in the classroom. At the time of dismissal, your child will proceed to the office to be signed out by a parent/guardian.
Safe Arrival Program at Elementary Schools
Our elementary schools have a safe arrival program to ensure student safety. An important part of this program is your communication with us around your child’s attendance.
We require you to contact the school as soon as possible when your child will be late or away. Please follow the four-step process outlined above.
If your child regularly walks to school, it is assumed that he/she will attend class when buses are cancelled due to inclement weather. If you decide to keep your child home during an inclement weather day, you must call the school to report your child’s absence. Schools are open for student learning on inclement weather days and so please feel free to drop your child at school at the appropriate time and pick them up at the end of the school day.
There are many scheduled holiday periods throughout the school year and we would ask that you take advantage of those times to take your vacations. Missing time at school can affect student success and we discourage extended holidays being taken during class time. If an extended absence is unavoidable, you must apply in writing to the principal for your child to be excused. Please understand that the school is under no obligation to provide school work for students away on holiday.
Secondary School Exams
Exams dates can be found on the school year calendar, which is posted publicly before the school year starts. With the exception of bereavements or unforeseen medical situations that require documentation from a physician; students are not able to have exams rescheduled. The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board appreciates the motivation of our students to begin their summer jobs early, however employers do understand the value of finishing the school year by completing required exams. Parents are also asked to schedule family vacations after the conclusion of the exam period in order to allow students to maximize the time they are able to dedicate to their studies.
Our board’s attendance counsellor is available to support students who are struggling to attend school regularly. Students with extended, unexplained absences will be referred by the school to the attendance counsellor. If parents have a concern, they can also contact the attendance counsellor at 705.722.3555 ext., 275.
The Attendance Counsellor will work with the parents/guardians, principal, teachers and other professionals as a team in order to assist the student in returning to school. The services offered by the Attendance Counsellor include the following:
Assessment of school refusal behaviour
Address barriers to daily attendance
Develop attendance improvement plans
Provide brief or ongoing counselling to students
Liaise with community agencies or medical staff
Refer students to the Board Psychologist, Social Worker, or School Counsellors
Conduct home visits to meet with students and parents/guardians
Work with families to assist youth who have left the school system to resume their education
Assist students in developing a Supervised Alternative Learning (SAL) plan if they are unable to participate in a traditional academic environment
Enforcement of section 21 (1) of the Education Act, compulsory school attendance