The Falmouth School Committee believes that successful achievement of its mission relies heavily on daily attendance. The Committee sees a strong correlation between attendance and achievement and finds that daily attendance is a function of school, student, and family factors. The Falmouth School committee reaffirms its belief in the compulsory attendance law and the responsibility of parents/guardians and students to comply with it.
Regular and timely attendance is necessary for maximum learning success. In accordance with Massachusetts law, students may not be absent from school for seven or more full-day sessions or fourteen half-day sessions within any period of six months.
Falmouth Public Schools makes a sincere attempt to avoid scheduling special school and student events to conflict with religious holidays and will exercise care when scheduling assignments and tests. Students will not suffer consequences from an excused absence for religious observations.
The Falmouth Public Schools recognize that time lost from class is essentially irretrievable in terms of opportunity for instructional interaction. In order for a student to receive a passing grade, the student has an obligation to give, as well as receive, in the context of the classroom setting. It is recognized that attendance is among the requirements for all courses. Regular and timely attendance is necessary for maximum learning success. Parents/guardians and students are asked to take attendance seriously and provide notes explaining any absence responsibly. Valuable staff time is lost investigating absences when a note is not provided.
By improving attendance and encouraging punctuality, the Falmouth Public Schools hopes to achieve the following objectives:
- Improve academic performance.
- Develop an attitude of cooperation and responsibility in the students.
- Place responsibility for attendance and punctuality on the students and their parents/guardians.
- Develop habits of student as worker that are beneficial to life skills and future employment.
If you are absent from school, you may be required to present a written excuse from a physician or the court to your homeroom teacher on the day following your absence stating the reason for your absence. Excused absences may be for any of the following reasons: death in family; religious holidays; authorized school-sponsored activities; illness – as stated, a physician’s note may be required to verify that the physician saw the student in the physician’s office on the day(s) absent from school or specify the dates the student needed to remain at home for a medical issue; court appearances – as stated, a note from the court may be required to verify the date(s) of the student’s court appearance; and other reasons as deemed reasonable and appropriate by the Principal. Parent/guardian notes may be considered, and thus, we ask that you always send a note in to school when your child has been absent from school.
- Improve academic performance.
All schools, at the midterm of their grading period, shall send letters home to parents/guardians of students who exceed certain attendance benchmarks. These letters shall notify the parents/guardians of their child’s attendance, the relevant state laws regarding attendance, and school averages. They shall also invite the parents/guardians to meet with guidance and/or school administration to discuss the student’s attendance, and make a plan to improve it. The dates and benchmarks are as follows:
Number of Absences
Principals will have discretion based on specific circumstances to waive midterm meetings.
Safe Arrival Program
Striving for the safest possible school environment, the Falmouth Public Schools maintains an attendance system that includes a Safe Arrival Program. If a child needs to be absent from school, a parent/guardian must call the Safe Arrival line at the school by 8 am for all elementary schools. If a parent/guardian has advance notice of an absence, a written note signed by the parent/guardian stating the date, duration, and reason for the absence is helpful for our Safe Arrival program. Students will be expected to make up missed assignments. On a daily basis the school attempts to verify the attendance, or necessary absence, of every student. In grades kindergarten through eight (K-8) parents/guardians are asked to call in to their child’s school to record any upcoming absence through the use of an available 24-hour phone line. This would include days of sickness, tardiness, vacations or any other event that may keep a student from arriving for the accounting of attendance at the beginning of the school day.
Each morning, the school absence list will be reconciled with the phone calls recorded on our Safe Arrival line. In any situation where a child’s absence has not been accounted for, by an appropriate phone call, the school will attempt to contact parents/guardians. Please note, that even when a parent/guardian does call their child in absent, an automated call home will still be generated.
When calling the Safe Arrival line and leaving a message, parents/guardians are asked to include a phone number for return calls. Please do not leave homework requests on the Safe Arrival line. Instead, please call the main office directly for homework requests.
Extra Help and Make-Up Work
Upon returning to school after a period of absences, a student has a length of time equal to the number of school days absent to make up missed work. A student not making up the work in the allotted time will receive a failing mark for the work not made up. Previously announced assignments/tests must be completed upon return. The responsibility is on the student to meet with the teacher to determine when the assignment/test is to be made up.
If any extenuating circumstances exist, the parent/guardian should contact the assistant principal or the guidance counselor. The assistant principal and/or guidance counselor will consult with teacher, department head, and principal when necessary.
The District discourages students from leaving school for travel because our time with students is so valuable and school vacations are at well placed intervals. Make-up work is only a small part of the learning missed. Our experience is that providing assignments to be done during vacation is not productive. Vacations are considered unexcused absences. Therefore, we do not require teachers to design this work in advance for supporting family vacations. We expect students to be present for state MCAS testing.
If a student is going to be absent as a result of travel, the parent/guardian should notify the main office staff one week in advance. Students will be expected to make up missed assignments and classroom work within the reasonable amount of time laid out at the beginning of this make-up work expectation.
Field trips are offered throughout the year. There may be scholarships available for those who may need them.
- Students will observe school rules of behavior and respect the laws and property of the region.
- Students must observe curfews set by chaperones and be respectful. Some basic reminders are no running, no shouting, no slamming of doors, and socially appropriate clothing should be worn at all times.
- A buddy system will be enforced by chaperones in order to ensure safety.
- Students who are absent from school during the school activity must make up the work they missed. Unless previously assigned, this work must be done within the time period as specified in this handbook (one day missed = one day make-)
- The Travel and Medical Permission Form must be signed by both parent/guardian and student and returned on the due date to the chaperone.
- During transits between activities, each student will be assigned to an appropriate chaperone. The student must report to their chaperone for head counts at specified times.
- When appropriate, a telephone tree will be established by chaperones to alert parents/guardians in case of late or early return of students on a school activity or trip. Please check on who will be calling you and whom you will be calling.
- When necessary, a student should ask their doctor for a copy of their prescription in case the student loses the medication.
- Students participating in a school-sponsored activity are covered under the school insurance policy.
Parents/Guardians are asked to sign the Field Trip Permission Form. This will enable your child to participate in any and all field trips. A reminder and details for each trip will be sent home prior to the trip. You may at that time elect not to allow your child to participate in the planned trip.
When your child arrives late to school, please escort your child into the main office and let our front office know that your child is late. Your child will be given a pass to proceed to their classroom. Students having excessive tardiness will receive a letter of warning. Excessive tardiness will be identified as five (5) or more days. Before letters are sent, the student's record will be reviewed with the nurse and the classroom teacher to determine if there are special circumstances effecting tardiness. The letter will indicate that the next tardy will result in a detention. A meeting with the student and the counselor will occur. After the detention is served, the tardiness count will return to zero (0), allowing the student to improve their record. If tardiness continues and reaches an additional five (5) days, a second detention will be issued, indicated by a letter and a call home. After serving the second detention, the student's tardiness will continue to result in detentions. A meeting with parents/guardians will be requested.
If a student is going to be absent as a result of travel, the parent/guardian should notify the principal’s office one (1) week in advance. Students will be expected to make up missed assignments and classroom work within the reasonable amount of time after as defined by school procedures. The District discourages students from leaving school for travel because our time with students is so valuable and school vacations are at well placed intervals. Make-up work is only a small part of the learning missed. Our experience is that providing assignments to be done during vacation is not productive. Vacations are considered unexcused absences. Therefore, we do not require teachers to design this work in advance for supporting family vacations. We expect students to be present for state MCAS testing.