Student absences rise in Phoenix-area school districts after winter break

Jan 10, 2022, 4:45 AM | Updated: 9:46 am
(Joe Burbank/AP)...
(Joe Burbank/AP)

(Joe Burbank/AP)

PHOENIX — Students who returned to school from winter break last week may have noticed a lot of empty desks.

That’s because several school districts across the Phoenix metro area saw higher than normal student absentee rates.

The Cartwright Elementary School District in Phoenix reported about 20% of students were absent as classes resumed Monday.

That percentage dropped to about 15% on Tuesday and Wednesday and increased to 17% on Thursday. There’s no school on Fridays.

The absentee rates for teachers and staff were also up, but the district said it was covering classrooms adequately.

Veronica Sanchez, the district’s public relations director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM the absences were mostly due to COVID-19 illness.

She also stressed the district follows CDC guidelines and has rapid tests available for both students and staff.

“Safety is a big priority as our area is still experiencing high transmission,” she said in a statement. “Our mask mandate is still in place and parents are supportive of it and thrilled to have their children back in class.”

The Tempe Elementary School District reported 17% of students were absent when classes resumed Monday. It dropped to 11% on Tuesday and 12% on Wednesday and Thursday.

The district noted the figures are comprehensive and not COVID-related.

The Madison School District saw student absences double one each of its campuses on the first day back from winter break, compared to numbers in early December. An average of 12% of students were absent last Monday. This is compared to an average of 6% of students being absent at the beginning of December.

The Kyrene School District reported slightly lower numbers — between 10% and 12% of students were absent every day last week.

This comes as the highly-contagious omicron variant continues to fuel a rise in COVID-19 cases throughout Arizona.

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Student absences rise in Phoenix-area school districts after winter break