Each day around 2:30, our wonderful attendance secretary sweetly and kindly connects with a few of our homeroom educators to remind them to enter their attendance for the day. Once she submits those final few entries, the safe arrival calls automatically begin and families are notified of their child’s absence. Even though we are currently all learning from home, this procedure is still in place. I’ve often facetiously commented that if the intent of this procedure is safe arrival, are we now ensuring that our students are safely arriving from their bedroom to the kitchen table.
We’re finding that on a regular basis, about 15 minutes after the automatic calls are generated, the calls from families begin to trickle in. The attendance expectations for online learning are that as long as a student logs in at least once per day they are marked present. At times it is challenging to capture those moments of “attendance” so it’s understandable that mis-entries are possible. With many of our students celebrating Eid, both yesterday and today, our attendance has been more challenging to navigate correctly. So, it wasn’t surprising that today we were fielding more calls than usual from families confirming attendance.
As I was just about to log off of my laptop and lock up the office for the day, the phone rang once more. I had assumed that it was going to be, yet another, attendance call, confirming that their child had indeed logged on at some point in the day. I could never have anticipated the call I received. On the other end of the line was the father of three girls who had been attending our school as in-person learners until March, at which point they needed to switch to remote learning, as the family needed to return to Palestine so that their mother could be a marrow donor for her brother who had been diagnosed with leukemia. I recall their final day at school as it was filled with lots of tears from their peers.
Today’s call from dad was also about attendance, but it wasn’t confirmation about logging on, it was that his girls would not be logging on at this time as their internet was compromised because where the family is staying is very close to the fighting in Palestine. His words stopped me in my tracks. It was a sobering reminder that, in the midst of COVID and all of the challenges that our current circumstances are creating, on the other side of the world, there is a member of our school family who is doing their best to survive this unprecedented wave of violence and the walk between the bedroom and the kitchen may indeed not be that safe.
Sending love and strength to all families in Palestine.