BY MAIRE O’NEILL
While the state Public Education Department works to find out what has happened with some 12,000 K-12 students who have stopped attending public school amid the COVOD-19 pandemic, Los Alamos Public Schools has confirmed every student’s location and their current status. Whether they are currently enrolled at an LAPS school, in a homeschool program, or enrolled in a new school district, all students are accounted for, LAPS Supt. Kurt Steinhaus said Monday.
In response to questions Monday from the Los Alamos Reporter, Steinhaus said 101 students in the district have withdrawn to homeschool and an additional 112 have withdrawn and enrolled in another school district or private school leaving district-wide enrollment at 3,490 compared to 3,703 in March.
Enrollment numbers at specific schools are as follows:
March 2020 December 2020 Total Change
Aspen 438 392 -49
Barranca 477 408 -69
Chamisa 265 248 -17
LAHS 885 888 +3
LAMS 566 593 +27
Mountain 445 406 -39
Pinon 322 279 -43
Topper Freshman Acad. 303 275 -28
Homebound 2 1 -1
All teachers are taking attendance daily and recording it in Powerschool where it is reviewed regularly by school counselors and principals to monitor absences and participation. When a student is absent, LAPS is asking parents to call into the attendance line or email the attendance clerk at their school. Attendance clerks notify families by email or phone call depending on the school and teachers contact parents and students if several classes are missed.
Steinhaus said if attendance and participation does not improve after the family is contacted by the principal or the school counselor, the school schedules a Student Assistance Team (SAT) meeting to discuss attendance challenges with the parents.
“The SAT team works with the family to identify the core issues and offer solutions. An example may be poor internet connectivity. The school may need to issue a hotspot for the student,” he said.
If a student continues to miss class, a second meeting is held and further absences result in a referral to the Student Attendance Resolution Team (StART) which meets with the family to offer further support and connect the family with community resources. If a student is absent several days and there is no response from the family, a safety check and home visit will be conducted, Steinhaus said. Continued absences will then be reported to Children Youth and Family Services to provide additional support and safety checks.
“The StART team is composed of LAPS staff, the student, the family and community partners to identify and clarify the issues negatively impacting student attendance and implement a plan designed to provide services, incentives and consequences to help the student improve his or her attendance.
The StART team process is initiated after school site attendance interventions have been exhausted and the student has reached seven or more unexcused full day absences in a calendar year or has demonstrated patterns of poor attendance across school years,” Steinhaus said.
The StART Team works with the family to provide specific, interactive intervention steps for chronic attendance issues to avoid further negative impact on the student. StART is part of a comprehensive attendance program that has been in place for all educational settings at LAPS prior to the onset of the pandemic and during both remote and hybrid learning models.
LAPS is providing online teaching to students with certified classroom teachers. School work can be delivered to the student’s home or picked up from the school site. Tutoring programs have been established as well as individual teacher meetings for students who are not able to engage in the virtual classroom. Staff are also working with community partners to provide wrap around services for students and families outside of the school setting, including connections to mental health providers, provision of basic needs support and Spanish language tutoring.
“From the beginning of this school year, we have worked very hard to connect with students and families, provide additional support, and answer questions. I am very proud of the LAPS staff for their hard work and dedication to student attendance, well-being and academic achievement,” Steinhaus said.