RCSD attendance goes up overnight. 1st week average 81%

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC is digging into attendance numbers for schools. We’re especially looking at the Rochester City School District, which is 100% remote through at least the first week of November.

In the 24 hours since our first story on attendance, the numbers in RCSD have gone up.

"One word I would like to use to describe how school is going so far is resiliency," said Melody Martinez-Davis, Deputy Superintendent for Student Support Services in RCSD.

Martinez-Davis oversees attendance. At the Rochester School Board meeting last week, a snapshot of one day’s attendance said the average across the board was 77%.

Overnight, RCSD calculated the average for the first full week, and the new number is 81%.

In Syracuse, the average attendance for the first full week of school was 79%.

Brean: "What is it going to take to get that number up into the 90s?"

Melody Martinez-Davis, Dep. Superintendent for Student Support Services: "What it’s going to take is, I think what it’s going to take is all of us coming together and continue supporting our students like we have been."

This year, RCSD gave more than 25,232 Chromebooks to students. The district numbers show it handed out more than 8,248 MiFi hotspots to families without internet at home.

At the end of the first week of school in 2019, the average attendance in RCSD was 87%.

So why the six percent drop?

In a statement, RCSD said, "We do all that we can to reach populations that typically are hard to reach; we have a homeless student population, some students have moved with grandparents and are not with a mom and/or dad and have not notified the District. Older students may be working to support younger students in the District. We reach out through home visits, through the center for youth, and learning labs that we’ve set up with the City at R-Centers."

"It’s hard, it’s hard on everyone," said Jessica Fleming, the parents of 8-year-old twins in 4th grade at RCSD. They’re enrolled in two different city schools.

Jessica Fleming: "In a typical school year my kids are at a 98% attendance rate. In this school year, we are looking at meeting attendance about 50% because we miss specials so often."

"Specials" are classes like gym, art and music.

Brean: "But they’re still attending, right?"

Fleming: "Yes."

Brean: "They may not take attendance but they’re still attending."

Fleming: "Yes, they’re doing their work daily, every day, five days a week."

I asked Buffalo and Albany for their attendance numbers. They didn’t provide them.

One impact on attendance is enrollment. It’s down 1,850 children in the city, mostly pre-K through first grade. The district says many of the names of the children who are going to school somewhere else are still on the city district’s roster and they count as absent.

Eventually, when RCSD gets documentation from the new schools, those names get purged and the attendance rate goes up.