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New Haven Aims to Boost School Attendance

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There’s a mission to get kids in New Haven into the classrooms with school there set to start in about a week.

And there’s a community-wide effort to help boost attendance numbers, especially in certain grades.

“We gave the parent a bag with some stuff, school supplies for the student just to get them excited about school,” said Leighton Johnson, with a community organization called Ice the Beef.

Across the city of New Haven on Monday, community volunteers, teachers and others handed out basic school items for families and they helped to spread a message.

“We’re just trying to get the kindergartners to understand, the parents and the kindergartners to understand how important attendance is and it starts at that age and the grade so it can be a pattern throughout your life,” said Johnson.

Officials say home visits are helpful to build relationships.

For several years, this canvass has been working on kindergarten absenteeism.

“We see the numbers slightly lower, but nowhere near where we need it to be. So we are doubling down this year saying to our parents and reminding them that kindergarten is a critical grade,” said Gemma Joseph Lumpkin, the Chief of Youth, Family & Community Engagement at New Haven Public Schools.

Besides kindergarten, the community canvass this year also focused on 9th grade.

Data has shown it has had high absenteeism.

“We believe that it's connected to the pandemic. And so that's why we're working harder than ever to make sure that we reduce those numbers,” said Joseph Lumpkin.

Some parents might be nervous with Covid still spreading.

We spoke with a mom who believes it’s better for her children to be back in class.

“I’m hoping for more focus. I’m hoping they stay more focused and actually get to be able to enjoy the full experience without oh, we can’t come back for five days if we have a small sneeze,” said Angelica Burgos, New Haven.

We’re told Monday’s kickoff was the first of five canvasses that will take place in the city this week.

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