How Many Days Can You Be Absent From School?

In an ideal world, everyone would always go to school. Attending class helps students learn better, faster, and also gives them a way to develop their social skills.

Unfortunately, sometimes people just can’t go to school. The most common cause for a student being absent is sickness. Feeling unwell makes paying attention to the lecture harder. Plus, some sicknesses are easily transmissible. Going to school with a bad flu would turn you into a biological weapon.

It is reasonable to skip school when something more important happens. Things like funerals of a loved one or a doctor’s visit are considered good reasons to be absent from school. If something can’t be moved to a different time, and it affects the student’s life, it’s okay to prefer it over school.

But what about unexcused absences? How are these treated by schools? And how many days of school can you skip, even with a good reason to do so?

The brief answer: it depends. It depends on your school system, since each district has its rules. Some districts give more leeway with the number of absences a student can take, others are stricter.

Plus, there are extreme situations that let a student stay absent from school more than what the school usually allows.

We also must distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. The former means you have a good reason to skip school. The latter means you skipped school for no reason. You just didn’t want to go school.

In this article, we are going to see when you can skip school, and for how long. We will also see what happens when you don’t respect the limit, and how to go over it without losing a year of school.

You Need a Good Reason to Skip School

You can’t skip school willy-nilly. Or well, you can, but there will be consequences.

There are two types of absences: excused and unexcused. Unexcused absences are bad under all circumstances. It means you skipped school without a good reason to do so.

Schools see unexcused absences as terrible. 2 or 3 unexcused absences already put you at risk of a suspension, or even losing the school year.

Excused absences are absences where you have a good reason to not go to school. 

Let’s analyze these two types of absences.

Excused Absences

Every school has in its policy a definition of excused absence. An excused absence is a reason officially recognized by the school for a student’s absence. These are the three categories of excused absences:

  • Illness
  • Medical visits
  • Family emergencies

As you can see, they all concern the well being of the student. The rationale here is that the student couldn’t get the most out of lectures if they had any of these conditions. Medical visits are necessary to ensure the student is in good health. Illnesses make paying attention in class way too hard, and some can be transmitted to other students. Family emergencies include events affecting the health of family members.

Imagine how hard it would be for someone to do well in class when their mother was in a hospital bed after a car crash. The school understands the struggle, so it considers being absent for these situations fine.

Unexcused Absences

Unexcused absences happen when a student misses school without a reason, or with a reason not accepted by the school. 

Schools will attempt to figure out what happened to the student, and if they can’t, they will send letters to the student’s home. If students keep being absent without a good reason, the school will declare them as truant.

Truancy is the last thing you want to have on your resume. If you receive 3 letters of truancy, you will be referred to the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) for legal action. It will leave a stain on the rest of your life. Nobody likes truants.

Absences from school
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What Is Chronic Absenteeism and Why It’s Bad

Chronic absenteeism is when a student skips too many days of school. Even excused absences. If you are labeled as one, you will have issues with your school. 

The main issue with this condition is that most students classified as chronic absentees are considered at academic risk. They aren’t expected to complete their schooling smoothly. They are also considered at risk of dropping out. 

It doesn’t matter if your absences are excused or not. Skipping too many days of school is bad. You are jeopardizing your education and wasting your time. Don’t do it.

But how many is too many? Most school districts allow students to be absent for up to 10% of the school year, provided the absences are excused. The standard school year lasts for 180 days, so you can have up to 18 excused absences.

Once you go over that number, you’ll be labeled as a chronic absentee.

Warning: chronic absentees tend to perform worse in their academic path. You are making school harder for yourself by not attending it. And for what? Is it worth it?

Can You Salvage a Year After too Many Absences?

Sometimes you don’t have a choice. You just can’t go to school, even if you’d want to. This happens with sicknesses or other health issues that prevent you from physically attending school.

What should you do when this happens? 

Contact your school administration immediately. Explain your situation, and why you can’t attend school, but mention you really want to keep up with your education. Be honest. 

Schools will look for a solution if you cooperate. For example, it could give you a personalized teaching plan to follow while you’re home. Or it could grant you access to virtual classes. Losing a year because of no fault of your own sucks. Schools know this. They will try to accommodate you.

If your education is at stake, do everything in your power to save it. It’s your greatest asset. Don’t let external factors dictate how you should live your life.

Conclusions

We’ve seen you can be absent from school for up to 10% of a standard school year, which amounts to about 18 days. 

You can’t be absent from school without a good reason. These are called excused absences. An absence is excused when it is about the student’s health. Most other reasons won’t be valid.

If you skip too many days of school, you risk losing the entire school year. Even with excused absences. If you are having issues attending class because of no fault of yours, contact the school’s administration and work out a solution.

If you have too many unexcused absences, the school will classify you as a truant. Truancy will cause you many problems in your future life. Expect many universities to reject you because of your truancy. Lots of employers won’t work with you.

The easiest solution? Going to school.

But I understand that sometimes you can’t. 

As long as you are honest and only skip school for good reasons, you shouldn’t have much of a problem. Always be transparent about your situation and try to talk it out with the right people if you are having bigger issues. 

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