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Langley school absentee level a third higher than normal as classes resumed

About 18 per cent of students were absent last week

The Langley School District has seen a rate of student absences of up to 18 per cent this month, but can’t say exactly how many of those absences are directly caused by COVID-19.

A normal absentee rate in January would be around 12 per cent, said Langley School District spokesperson Joanne Abshire.

In the week of Dec. 13, 2021, just before the Christmas break, the rate was slightly lower than that, at just 11 per cent.

The full return of school was delayed by a week due to the ongoing Omicron wave of COVID-19, with most students staying home until Jan. 10.

But on the week of Jan. 17 to 21, 18 per cent of all students in the district were absent.

The rate was variable across the district, with some schools reporting higher rates, while other schools were below the normal average for January.

“As directed by the Ministry [of Education] and public health, our district is being asked to monitor current absence rates and compare them to historical averages,” Abshire said.

Other Lower Mainland school districts are seeing similarly high absenteeism rates. The week of Jan. 10 to Jan. 14, Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District’s rate was more than 10 per cent higher than its normal rate.

Some districts, according to Fraser Health, were seeing attendance below 75 per cent, meaning more than 25 per cent of students were gone on any given day.

READ MORE: New COVID cases keep declining in Langley

It’s unknown how absenteeism rates in Langley correlate to COVID-19 cases or exposures in families around the district.

Students don’t need to disclose if their absence is related to COVID, however those who test positive are asked to make sure their school knows the absence is illness-related, Abshire said.

“The district recognizes that students are absent for a variety of reasons, including some families choosing to keep their children at home.”

All schools are following COVID-19 health guidelines.

“The district is reminding students and their families to continue personal measures such as staying home when sick, conducting the daily health check, wearing a mask, and practicing proper handwashing to help keep the community safe,” Abshire said.

As of Jan. 18, 43 per cent of Langley children aged five to 11 had received their first shot of a vaccine against COVID-19, while 88 per cent of students aged 12 to 17 have had their first shot, and 84 per cent have had their second shot. The pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine was only approved in December in Canada.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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