Principal’s Update — September 8, 2023

Posted September 8, 2023

Dear McKinley-Thatcher families,

Welcome back to another year at McKinley-Thatcher! We are off to a terrific start! Please join us for Back-to-School Night (BtSN) next week on Thursday, September 14, from 4:00pm to 5:30pm. This event is for grown-ups only, but our staff is running free childcare for McKinley students!

All teachers will be hosting two BtSN sessions to accommodate different schedules and families with more than one child at McT. You can choose to attend from 4:00pm to 4:40pm or 4:45pm to 5:25pm. These important sessions cover the grade-level expectations, math and literacy curriculum, classroom management strategies, communication systems and more! We’ll see you there!  

I posted some information earlier this week on ClassDojo about our first Attendance Incentive Contest of the year: if students have 1 or fewer absences in the month of September, they’ll be invited to a Donut Dance Party at the end of the month. This announcement raised a few questions, so I wanted to provide more information here. 

Across the nation, the pandemic has changed many aspects of life and learning. We are all different as a result of how we experienced three years of COVID. One thing that remains consistent is that attendance matters! Students who miss more school than their peers perform consistently behind their peers. The impact on academic performance also links attendance to various school readiness skills, such as the development of perseverance, graduation and even the completion of college. 

Last school year (2022-23) at McT, attendance was a significant area of concern.  

  • 28% of our students were chronically absent, missing over 18 days of school during the year. This means that 63 students missed about a month of school (or more!).
  • Our average attendance rate was 92%. This means that, on average, every student missed about 15 days of school last year.  
  • Research shows that when students are chronically absent, they are less likely to read proficiently by third grade, less likely to be on track academically in middle school, and less likely to graduate from high school. 

Regular attendance is vital for student success. When students attend regularly, starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, they are more likely to achieve academically and thrive socially and emotionally. Regular attendance is a priority for all McT students, and should be a priority for all McT families.  

How Can I Improve My Child’s Attendance?  

  • If your student has an appointment, please bring them to school before or after their appointment, instead of being absent the full day. 
  • Schedule vacations in alignment with the McT School Calendar. We have a long weekend this fall (October 12-16, 2023); nine days off in November (November 18-26, 2023); two and a half weeks off for winter break (December 16, 2023 – January 2, 2024); several long weekends in the spring; and eleven more days for Spring Break (March 23 – April 2, 2024). Please schedule your trips on these dates. 
  • Expect your child to attend school every day, on time, unless they are sick. If parents and guardians prioritize school attendance, students will too.  

So… When Should I Keep My Child Home from School?

These are the marks of illness that might be contagious, and children should be kept home when: 

  • Feverish, having chills, and having a temperature of 100.4°F or greater.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting/throwing up
  • Diarrhea that is uncontrollable (can’t make it to the toilet or can’t control it).

Please refer to the How Sick Is Too Sick Guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health for more details.

What If My Child Tests Positive for COVID?

If your child tests positive for COVID-19, they should isolate by staying home for five days. Day Zero is the day they start having symptoms or the day they test positive.

COVID isolation may end on Day Five if:

  • They have no symptoms, or their symptoms are improving and
  • They have been fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medications.

After your child’s isolation period has ended and they are feeling better, they should wear a high-quality mask (e.g., KN95, N95) through Day Ten. If their symptoms are not improving and/or they continue to have a fever, they should isolate until Day Ten.

Thank you for your dedication to your student’s success, and to instilling good habits of punctuality and attendance at school. We look forward to an incredible year together in partnership to support all students! 

All the best,

Ms. Sonia Geerdes (she/her)