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School officials report low student attendance, engagement

The Maine Department of Engagement is hosting a forum this week with educators from across the state to discuss concerningly low student attendance and engagement

MAINE, USA — Schools across the state say they're experiencing abnormally low student attendance and engagement amid virtual and hybrid models of learning.

John McDonald, the Superintendent of RSU13 based in Rockland, says it's a statewide problem. 

"Attendance seems to be an issue and I hear that from other superintendents from across the state," McDonald said. 

McDonald says it's an issue in all forms of education model: "In terms of students not attending virtual classes, as well as in-person instruction, in the numbers that we'd hoped." 

Page Nichols, the Chief Innovation Officer at the Maine Department of Education says, "Student engagement is particularly challenging right now."

Nichols encourages parents to check in with their kids.

"Parents and caregivers should just be asking students, 'What are you learning about?' in the way they would be if they were coming home from school."

President of the Maine Education Association Grace Leavitt agrees with this sentiment. She advises parents to stay involved in their child's schooling, as they would under normal circumstances. 

"Help set that schedule for the students and check in with them, just as you would if they were in person," Leavitt said. 

She also advises parents to teach students to value their class time.

"Having them know that their education is really important, their learning is important."

The Maine Department of Education is hosting a forum about attendance and engagement with educators across the state this week. 

Their goal is to learn more about what is behind the issues of low attendance and engagement and how to solve them. 

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