Absences soared in Harford schools during days lost from original spring break

Absentee rates at Harford County Public Schools soared last week when students had to attend classes on four days originally slated as part of their spring break that were used to make up for last winter's unusually high number of snow days.

Between April 14 to 17, HCPS averaged daily absentee rate of 9.26 percent, according to daily enrollment reports. The average daily absentee rate in the school system is 5.24 percent, a school spokesperson said.

Not surprisingly, the worst day was Thursday, April, 17. Schools were closed, as scheduled, on Good Friday, April 18, and this past Monday.

The HCPS systemwide absentee rate was 8.7 percent on Monday, April 14; 7.71 percent on Tuesday, April 15; 7.78 percent on Wednesday, April 16; and 12.86 percent on the 17th. Enrollment averages for the days were 37,813 students, according to the reports.

"At this time, we have not analyzed the data to determine specific reasons for any changes in the attendance rate," HCPS spokesperson Jillian Lader wrote in an email.

On April 14, 10 schools had absentee rates above 10 percent. The John Archer School and the Center for Educational Opportunity led with the highest absentee rates at 15.93 and 15.10 percent, respectively.

Only two schools broke absentee rates above 10 percent on April 15: The Center for Educational Opportunity, at 20.13 percent, and the John Archer School at 11.06 percent.

Eight schools had absentee rates above 10 percent on April 16, including two elementary schools – Forest Lakes Elementary and Hickory Elementary.

The day before spring break, April 17, 27 of the 54 schools had absentee rates above 10 percent.

High schools averaged 19 percent absentee rates among the 10 schools on April 17. The highest were C. Milton Wright at 29.11 percent and Edgewood at 22.2 percent.

In response to weeks of heavy winter weather, the Harford County Board of Education voted to shorten spring break by four days to make up for some of the 12 days missed for inclement weather.

The board also decided to use three days at the end of the school year, June 10-12, as make up days.

The school system requested and received state waivers for the other five days missed.

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