LBUSD reports online attendance is on par with typical in-person classes

The Long Beach Unified School District’s attendance data for the first week of the 2020-21 school year is in, and officials say it’s not far off the average numbers during a typical school year.

Although the district’s approximately 70,000 students have had to make an enormous adjustment to attending school virtually instead of in person, almost all LBUSD students have been logging on, according to LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou.

“Considering the circumstances, it’s a victory to see attendance rates approaching normal levels,” he said. “And we’re still committed to following up with families to make sure we’re connecting with all of our students.”

Depending on final enrollment numbers, somewhere between 94% and 96% of the district’s students have been attending class virtually to begin the year, according to the LBUSD.

“During a typical, in-person school day, we would have an attendance rate of about 95 percent,” Eftychiou said.

So far, the district reported that 67,828 students have logged on to the Canvas application that’s supporting virtual learning for this year.

That’s out of the 70,000 to 71,000 students the district expects to be enrolled this year, according to LBUSD assistant superintendent Kristi Kahl. The LBUSD won’t have a finalized count of its overall enrollment numbers for the 2020-21 school year until the one month mark. (School began on Sept. 1).

During the first week of classes, high school attendance was 93% with elementary school slightly higher and middle/K-8 schools a few points lower, according to Eftychiou.

The LBUSD’s attendance numbers are high for an urban school district. Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Austin Beutner announced that the LAUSD’s attendance has been 88.4% this year.

There were also concerns because, as the coronavirus hit in the spring and schools quickly switched to virtual classes, some families struggled to get online. The LBUSD estimated 10% to 12% of students’ households didn’t have internet access. Statewide, Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the State Board of Education, said about 20% of California students lacked digital connectivity before the pandemic.

To try to make sure students could log in, the LBUSD distributed free Chromebook laptops as well as free internet hotspots to families.

LBUSD classes will be online at least until Jan. 28.

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