Harford County Public Schools will be notifying parents and guardians earlier in the day if their child is absent, school officials said.

The change is in response to community request and is being done as part of its priority to keep students safe and secure and invest in new features and measures to support this goal.

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Beginning Monday, the school system will use an automated attendance system to inform parents/guardians much sooner when their child is not in school.

“We have heard from our community members that they want to be notified earlier in the day when their child is absent from school,” Superintendent Sean Bulson said in a news release. “We are listening to your concerns, and we are making every effort possible to address them.”

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In the past, attendance was manually entered by an administrative assistant at the school, which was a time-consuming process, especially in the larger schools. With the available software, homeroom teachers input student attendance at the start of the school day and the attendance report is generated automatically and much faster.

Until now, attendance calls were sent at 5 p.m. each day, largely in part because of the manual process.

Beginning Monday, attendance calls to parents/guardians will be sent at the following times: high schools and North Harford Middle School, 9:30 a.m.; middle schools, 10 a.m.; elementary schools and the Alternative Education Program, 11 a.m.; and afternoon Pre-K, 2 p.m.

“If the child is absent for a reason unknown to the parent or guardian, they will know sooner,” Jillian Lader, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools, said.

The school system notified HCPS families of this change via a call on Wednesday and has shared the message on its social media pages as well.

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Parents/guardians are reminded that while the benefits of an earlier call far outweigh the cons, there may be times when they receive a false call.

With attendance submitted electronically at the start of the school day, those students who arrive late will have already been marked absent and may receive a call before it is corrected in the system.

“Please be aware and understanding that if your student is late to school, you may receive a call indicating he or she is absent,” HCPS Manager of Communications Jillian Lader said.

Additionally, parents/guardians are encouraged to verify that the contact information on file with their child’s school or in their Blackboard Connect5 Parent Portal account is up-to-date and accurate.

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