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Stick To Skipping Rope

I’m not proud of it, but I skipped school a couple of times when I was in high school. And I got caught each time. It wasn’t a pretty outcome when the principal, Doc Viglietti, reminded me that he loved me, and all his students, but yes, I would suffer the consequences of my misdeeds. I guess writing all those essays for Doc was an omen for my future career in journalism.

By my senior year, the only day I skipped was the actual planned senior skip day that the faculty all knew about ahead of time just before graduation. There is a big difference between skipping a day of school and actual truancy.

Eight times this past week, Ohio County Sheriff’s Department deputies made house calls. No, they weren’t responding to burglary calls or domestic battery incidents. They were sent to eight residences in response to students being truant from school.

Now you may say, but hey, kids have been on and off going to class online or in person, so how can they be truant? Well, if some students never turn in their schoolwork or attend classes in any form — it’s truancy.

If a child misses seven unexcused days in a row or 10 unexcused days in a school year, they are considered truant. And while kids, nor their parents, can serve jail time for truancy, there are consequences. I’m not a member of the legal community, so I will not expand on those consequences, but trust me you want to pay attention to your children.

The bottom line is kids need to be in school one way or another. Preferably, it better serves students when they actually sit in classrooms with their peers. That contact and those friendships are as much a part of learning as opening a book or computer. Ask any longtime educator and I’ll bet they’ll agree.

Sadly, the deputies found empty houses or no one responding to the door. It’s possible people moved away. It may be a grandparent or someone else home with the children but the kids were not completing their work. Whatever the circumstances, it’s nice to know someone is looking out for the kids.

This school year has been a learning process for everyone. Students, parents, teachers, bus drivers, cooks and administrators all have had to adjust to what the pandemic has done to a “normal” school year.

All I know is that it’s a joy to see children boarding school buses, sitting in classrooms and practicing their sports. Let’s hope the only skipping in the future is on the playground.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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