Bluewater District School Board

Bluewater's Attendance page


In Bluewater District School Board, we know that attendance and established routines are essential to student success and well-being.  Though Ontario law says that children between the ages of 6 and 17 must attend school, we understand that sometimes illness and other circumstances mean that a student must be away for a period of time.  During these situations, our school administrators have the responsibility of following up and addressing extended absences with families.

When a student is absent from school, it is a lost opportunity for them to learn, grow their social skills, and receive the benefits of community within our schools.  Prolonged and/or chronic absenteeism can result in decreased academic success and related employment skills in life.  There can be an increased level of anxiety caused by prolonged time away from school, students begin to worry about their grades, credits, catching up on assignments, and interactions with their peers, who might wonder about their absences.

The following chart, adapted from the Wiikwemkoong Board of Education, outlines the impact of extended absences from school.

Attendance Matters! chart outlining number of weeks and years of learning lost based on time away over 13 years of school

The following tips, adapted from, are designed to assist parents/guardians in promoting healthy habits to their children. 

Attendance Matters! graphic with quick tips for keeping your children healthy and in school: Maintain a regular bedtime and morning routine; Encourage healthy habits: sleep, nutritious foods, fluids, exercise; Ensure a good breakfast daily, or access to the school's nutrition program; Stress the importance of handwashing (e.g., before and after eating, following washroom use); Reinforce avoiding close contact with individuals who are sick, and not sharing cups or utensils with others; Have them dress for the colder weather (contact the school office if you need help with winter clothing)
Here are some helpful ways to break the cycle of absenteeism, shared by our education partners at Upper Grand District School Board:

Attitudes and Beliefs 
  • Keep in mind that attendance issues can quickly escalate.  Parents/guardians need to intervene and reach out for support as early as possible before it becomes the norm.
  • Keep the expectation in your home of attending school and staying all day.  Do not give up. 
    • Even if your child is anxious about school, ensure the expectation of regular attendance does not change.  Work with the issue, not around it.
  • Talk to your child to find out what is behind them not wanting to go to school.  Anxiety can show up in a lot of ways and one of them can be not wanting to go to school.
  • Encourage your child to talk back to their anxiety!  Tell themselves they can do it!
  • Ask questions about your child’s worries about school.  Although you know your child well, try not to assume you know the answers.  Keep an open mind.  Validate your child’s
  • If your child is having difficulty with attendance, try setting a goal with them, such as if they attend for a certain amount of time, they can have a special treat or do a special activity.
Routines and Environment at Home
  • Consistent Routines:
    • Practice consistent bedtime and morning routines with your child.
    • Parents/guardians can model the same routine at home, as it helps students stick to the routine of coming to school each day.
    • Having a set schedule for sleep and nutrition is key to a good morning and feeling good about coming to school.
    • Preparing for school at night so that the morning is less hectic can be helpful.  Organizing clothing, packing backpacks, and including favourite foods can be
    • Putting out clothes and making lunch the night before can help get your child out the door in the morning.
  • If your child does refuse to attend school, try having no screens/devices during the time when they are at home.  Make staying home as boring as possible!
    • Shutting down the home Internet can be helpful if this is a draw for your child to stay at home.
  • Night Time:
    • Create an environment conducive for improved sleep hygiene (e.g., dark room, quiet, sound machine, light in morning, consistent bed and wake times).
    • Ensuring at least 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed and removing all electronics from bedrooms before bed can be helpful.
    • Limiting screen time before bed is key to winding-down and getting a great night’s sleep!
Getting the School Involved
  • Know that there are supports in your child’s school.  Connect with them as soon as an issue starts. Connecting earlier is better than when your child has missed a lot of school.
  • If your child wants to leave school, try to have them connect with a caring adult in the school first to see if things can be worked out before your child goes home.
  • Reach out to your school principal and/or guidance department for help if your child is not coming to school.  Let’s talk!  There is no judgement!
  • A welcoming school approach has proven to be quite effective.  Ensure your child is familiar with their school principal, vice-principal, and other caring adults in the building.
  • Talk to the school team about anything you are hearing might be difficult for your child at school.  School staff are always ready to help problem solve.
  • Have a mental health plan created with your child and school staff, and ensure there is a safe place to go in the school when your child may need some quiet time.
  • If going into the classroom is hard – remember coming into the school building and meeting with a caring adult in a safe space is an important step in getting back to school.
Next Steps/What to Do if it is Not Working
  • Be consistent!  Do not give up.  Know that there are supports for parents/guardians if you need them.
  • There are resources available within schools and community supports, if there are other barriers to attendance.
  • Some great resources with evidence-based information can be found at:
Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
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