The reasons for chronic absenteeism vary, according to Mosely. He’s had students who have disengaged for reasons ranging from homelessness to family job loss, to a student needing a new hotspot, so that’s why he and his team head out to identify the problems and work to find solutions.

“It’s all about, am I giving you the opportunity to be successful? And have we provided you with what you need to go out into the world? Because a pandemic will happen, but education will continue,” Mosely says.

‘A perfect storm’

A year into the pandemic, the struggle with chronic absenteeism exacerbated by virtual schooling is being felt across the country.

South of Atlanta, in Henry County, Georgia, they try to consider every possibility for absences.

“There are so many different reasons that students may not be engaged, that we’ve got to design resources that will meet every single one that we can think of,” says Jessica Stormer, executive director of family and student support services for the county’s schools. “So, if it’s food insecurity, if it’s financial insecurity, if it is social support, or resources that they need, we have to have those resources lined up so that we can easily access them and make sure we bridge that gap.”

Data showing higher levels of absenteeism have increased concerns that school closures and a turn to remote learning will widen academic achievement gaps between poor students and others.