Attendance Policy

Every day counts!

Every day, students learn something new at school. That’s why if a student misses even one day, he or she is missing out.

Developing good attendance habits

Make school part of your family’s daily life

Set routines that your family sticks to every day and make sure the children in your family follow them. Have specific times for waking up, starting homework, and going to bed. Check in with your child in the evening to ask about her or his day at school.

Keep in touch with your child’s school

Maintain contact with your child’s teachers to keep up with what’s being taught and to keep an eye on your child’s progress; you can also check your child’s attendance through Parent Portal. Be sure to let your child’s school know when he or she needs to miss school. And, don’t forget to update your contact information with your child’s school if your phone number or address changes.

Have a back-up plan

Connect with other parents or members of your community to make a list of people you can reach out to for help for days that things don’t go according to plan (and you need help with things like getting your child to or from school).

Know your stuff

Know your child’s school’s attendance policy and what’s being taught in the classroom.

Plan for the year

Check the district’s yearlong calendar and schedule family vacations, medical check-ups, dental visits, and other appointments during school breaks or the weekend whenever possible.

Work together

Help your child with homework to show you care about school success. And, if your child has to be absent from school, make sure to get a make-up packet from your child’s teacher and complete the work together (or ask a family member or friend to help out).

Excused and unexcused absences

Children between the ages of 5 and 18 must attend school — it’s the law. But there are times when an absence is unavoidable.

In Maryland, an absence is considered excused once the parent or guardian provides a note explaining that it was due to one of these reasons:

  • Death in the immediate family (a parent note is acceptable)
  • Illness (a parent note is acceptable for an illness up to three days; a doctor’s note is required for illnesses lasting longer than three days)
  • Court summons (the student’s name must appear on the summons)
  • Hazardous weather conditions (a parent note is acceptable)
  • Observance of a religious holiday (a parent note is acceptable)

In addition, absences for these reasons are considered excused and do not require documentation:

  • School-approved activities or work
  • Suspension
  • Lack of authorized school transportation
  • District- or schoolwide closings due to inclement weather or other emergency conditions

According to state law, an absence for any other reason is considered unexcused.

Chronic absence and truancy

Chronic absence

Students who are absent for 10% or more of school days (if they were expected to attend for at least ten days) are considered chronically absent and struggle to keep up in school. For example, a student who is registered to attend school for 30 days but is absent 3 of those 30 days is considered chronically absent.

That means that students who miss as few as 5 days a quarter or 2 days a month are at risk of becoming chronically absent and must make every effort to come to school every day to make sure they stay on track.


Truancy is a legal term used to identify students who have missed more than 20% of school days (about 3.5 days per month) without a legal reason.

If a student has missed 15 days of school without a legal reason, the school may refer the family to the district office. If the district determines that the school has made every effort to work with the family and offer support but that the student has continued accruing unexcused absences, charges will be filed against the parent or guardian in district court.