Five Girls Smiling

Daily attendance in school is critical for young people’s academic success. Students with a strong attendance record are also more likely to have positive long-term outcomes in areas such as college graduation, employment, and physical and mental health.

If there are any barriers that prevent your student from attending school every day, we have an attendance hotline to call for information and resources to help. Whether you need assistance with bus transportation, uniforms, supplies, or technology, the attendance hotline can help connect you with resources to get your student in #SchoolEveryDay

The following FAQ is intended to answer questions families may have regarding attendance expectations and procedures during distance learning. If you have additional questions or concerns related to attendance, please contact your child’s school directly.

Attendance Hotline:

- Monday-Friday: 9 am to 5 pm
- 410-396-8643

How virtual learning and quarantines impact how attendance is marked

Students are most successful academically and socially when they attend school each day, on time. Maryland law also requires that students attend school daily.

Currently, City Schools is hosting classes in person. Our attendance policy has not changed. Students are expected to attend school in person unless they submit a valid reason for an absence. In some cases, schools may shift to a virtual learning format for a limited period. In this case, students will be provided with instructional resources to support their continued engagement in learning until in-person learning resumes. Attendance during required periods of virtual learning or quarantine will be handled in the following ways:

Students in schools that temporarily transition to virtual learning

  • Students who are engaged in virtual learning will be marked present. 

  • Students who have access to laptops or lessons but are not engaged in virtual learning will be marked “Absent Unexcused.” Schools will then reach out to the family to re-engage the student or determine if the absence should be excused.

  • An absence will be excused if a student has a compelling reason for being unable to access instructional resources.


  • Students that are quarantining or sick must not attend school in person during the quarantine period.

  • If a student is quarantining and sick, the student should focus on getting well. They do not need to participate in virtual learning while ill. This will be marked as an excused absence.

  • If a student is quarantining and not sick, they will be encouraged to participate in classes and learning activities provided by the school. Students will be marked as present if they participate. However, if the student does not participate in learning activities, they will be marked with an excused absence

  • Once the quarantine period ends, the student must return to class or be marked as absent.

Developing good attendance habits

Make school part of your family's daily life

Set routines that your family sticks to every day and make sure the children in your family follow them. Have specific times for waking up, starting homework, and going to bed. Check in with your child in the evening to ask about her or his day at school.

Keep in touch with your child's school

Maintain contact with your child's teachers to keep up with what's being taught and to keep an eye on your child's progress; you can also check your child's attendance through Parent Portal. Be sure to let your child's school know when he or she needs to miss school. And, don't forget to update your contact information with your child's school if your phone number or address changes.

Have a back-up plan

Connect with other parents or members of your community to make a list of people you can reach out to for help for days that things don't go according to plan (and you need help with things like getting your child to or from school). 

Know your stuff

Know your child's school's attendance policy and what's being taught in the classroom.

Plan for the year

Check the district's yearlong calendar and schedule family vacations, medical check-ups, dental visits, and other appointments during school breaks or the weekend whenever possible. 

Work together

Help your child with homework to show you care about school success. And, if your child has to be absent from school, make sure to get a make-up packet from your child's teacher and complete the work together (or ask a family member or friend to help out).

Excused and unexcused absences

Children between the ages of 5 and 18 must attend school — it's the law. But there are times when an absence is unavoidable.

In Maryland, an absence is considered excused once the parent or guardian provides a note explaining that it was due to one of these reasons:

  • Death in the immediate family (a parent note is acceptable)

  • Illness (a parent note is acceptable for an illness up to three days; a doctor's note is required for illnesses lasting longer than three days)

  • Court summons (the student's name must appear on the summons)

  • Hazardous weather conditions (a parent note is acceptable)

  • Observance of a religious holiday (a parent note is acceptable)

In addition, absences for these reasons are considered excused and do not require documentation:

  • School-approved activities or work 

  • Suspension

  • Lack of authorized school transportation

  • District- or schoolwide closings due to inclement weather or other emergency conditions

According to state law, an absence for any other reason is considered unexcused. 

Chronic absence and truancy

Chronic absence

Students who are absent for 10% or more of school days (if they were expected to attend for at least ten days) are considered chronically absent and struggle to keep up in school. For example, a student who is registered to attend school for 30 days but is absent 3 of those 30 days is considered chronically absent.

That means that students who miss as few as 5 days a quarter or 2 days a month are at risk of becoming chronically absent and must make every effort to come to school every day to make sure they stay on track. 


Truancy is a legal term used to identify students who have missed more than 20% of school days (about 3.5 days per month) without a legal reason.

If a student has missed 15 days of school without a legal reason, the school may refer the family to the district office. If the district determines that the school has made every effort to work with the family and offer support but that the student has continued accruing unexcused absences, charges will be filed against the parent or guardian in district court.