HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — After three years of dealing with the COVID pandemic, school systems are still trying to rebound in attendance as some students have been hesitant to make their way back into the classroom.

Since the pandemic came to an end, school refusal has been on the rise and impacting attendance numbers — 13% of students in Houston County have missed 18 or more days during the school year.

“I do think you have a small percentage of students that probably refuse I think some of the parents have a problem sending them,” Superintendent Brandy White said.

In a national report from USA Today, the school avoidance alliance states that 5 percent of school-aged students will experience school refusal.

They also believe the pandemic worsened students’ anxiety along with other mental health issues.

“I think part of them could be that we don’t know the reason for all of it, but I think most of it is a lack of discipline and work ethic and we need to improve on that,” White said.

White said they offer mental health counseling through Spectracare and they have a process of sending notice to parents if their child is missing days.

That process includes a three-day letter, a phone call, an early warning court, or a petition filed on the parents if their child is absent.

Ultimately, White believes the solution starts with the parents first.

“A lot of times they try to make the school have the responsibility of the parent’s job and we can’t go in and wake them up and make them come to school,” He said.
Our job is to educate.”

The state report card shows other schools in the Wiregrass area facing about the same absent percentage as Houston County if not higher.

Henry County – 12%

DCS – 21%

Geneva County – 11%

Ozark – 25%

However, Henry County Schools and Dothan City Schools don’t believe they are seeing a problem with students refusing to go to school.

Overall, Superintendent Brady White said fortunately it’s not a large problem in this area because most parents are supportive of their children and the school system.