Kansas City school districts see higher absence rates as COVID-19 cases surge

Virus Outbreak School Guidance
Posted at 2:52 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 17:31:57-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Across the Kansas City metro, student absences are higher than normal as COVID-19 cases surge.

KSHB 41 News reached out to multiple school districts across the area to see what their student attendance rates were after about a week of school being in session.

The absentee rates each district provided include all absences, such as doctors appointments and family emergencies, and not just COVID-19-related absences.


Bonner Springs Edwardsville School District
The district announced Wednesday that they would be closing schools for Thursday and Friday due to illness among students. Nearly 25% of students in the district were absent Wednesday. A district spokesperson said the district would reopen on Tuesday after the Monday Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

De Soto USD 232
The district said that they were doing "a little better than Bonner Springs," and they had between 10% to 11% student absenteeism across the district this week.

But on Thursday afternoon, the district announced that they would be canceling school Friday because of a "high number of staff absences due to COVID-19 and other illnesses."

"The district has had nearly 100 teaching positions unfilled this week, requiring school and district staff to try to fill the gaps," a release from the district said. "For Friday, January 14, nearly 20% of classroom teachers are already not available."

Spring Hill School District
The Spring Hill School District reported on Thursday that the student absence rate across the district was at 9.8%.

Olathe Public Schools
Olathe Public Schools reports their absence rates for their high schools on their district website. Each of the five high schools reported a daily absence rate on Wednesday.

  • Olathe East High School: 3.79%
  • Olathe North High School: 9.19%
  • Olathe Northwest High School: 10.16%
  • Olathe South High School: 8.37%
  • Olathe West High School: 8.85%

The district said that they have not had to close any buildings, but four of the five high schools had to return to universal masking for two weeks due to absenteeism being 7% or higher.

Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools
KCKPS told KSHB 41 News that 688 employees were absent Thursday. The district said they were unsure of how many of those absences were related to COVID-19.

The district also said that they are "definitely experiencing high absences throughout the district than usual and trying to cope as much as we can."

"We are filling in the gaps within the system where needed and we are not at the point where we need to close schools," a district spokesperson said.

Lawrence Public Schools
Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis told the school board Monday that the first three days of school saw student attendance rates of 81.2% (1,957 students), 81.5% (1,930 students), and 81.2% (1,955 students).

"It's not where we want our attendance to be, of course, but it's not bad considering all of the circumstances involved," a district spokesperson said.

Shawnee Mission School District
The district did not have an exact average absentee rate, but they said absences have been hovering around 15% this week.

Louisburg USD 416
Louisburg is currently reported a 90% attendance rate.


Hickman Mills School District
The district said that the average attendance rate for the last three days was 82.5%, which they said was 10% less than it would be on a typical day.

Smithville School District
The district said their average attendance rate for this week has been 91% - a 9% absence rate.

Raymore-Peculiar School District
Raymore-Peculiar reported that Wednesday their attendance rate was 92.42%.

"A typical pre-pandemic day would have been about 94%," a district spokesperson said. "We currently have 120 students who have reported to us a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, which is 1.9% of our student population."

The district will not have school Friday because of a planned work day for staff.

Lone Jack School District
The district said they have stayed consistent with attendance rates at the middle school and high school buildings at 91% and 94% at the elementary school.

Fort Osage School District
The district reported that their attendance rate for this week was 85.7%.

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