The first day of school for Sumter School District students is Monday, August 20, and the first day for pre-kindergarten students is Wednesday, August 22.

It is imperative that students attend school regularly.  While some absences for illness are unavoidable, nothing can replace the educational, cultural, and social contacts students experience through regular participation in class.  Students with good attendance achieve more than students who are often absent.  Attendance is also a major criterion in preparing students for the world of work.

According to state law, students must attend a minimum of 180 days of school a year. New requirements from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), define an absent student as one who misses 50 percent of the instructional day for any reason, regardless of whether the absence is excused or unexcused.    Written notes from the parent, guardian or attending physician must be submitted within three to five days after returning to school or the absence will be considered unlawful. An absence is considered lawful when it is the result of illness, death in the immediate family, emergencies, and recognized religious holidays.  A limited number of parent notes may be accepted at the discretion of the principal.

Any student between the ages of six and 17 who accumulates five or more unlawful absences will, according to state law, be identified as truant and subject to possible petition to Family Court. High school students who have more than five unlawful absences in a one-unit course or three unlawful absences in a half-unit course may lose credit for the course.  Absences are counted in the high schools and middle schools by class, so students are encouraged to report promptly to every class.  Additionally, according to the OCR, any student who is absent a minimum of 10 percent of his or her enrollment period in the current school year for any reason (e.g. illness, suspension, excused or unexcused) shall be reported as “chronically absent.”

If a school closes due to inclement weather, the school year may extend to allow students to make up the missed days to meet the 180 day requirement.  In the event of inclement weather, school closings will be announced on local television and radio stations, posted on the website and district Facebook page, and phone calls will be made by the Edulink system.

For further information on attendance laws, contact Coordinator of Attendance Services Maria Thomas at (803) 469-6900, extension 414.