Present, Engaged and Supported:
A Guide to Planning Transitions to School

The transition back to school for the 2020-21 school year will be one like no other in recent history. Education may occur in classrooms, virtually or as a combination. School transitions in and out of classrooms may occur more than once.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, every student and family, as well as education leaders, teachers and staff, experienced some level of stress, while others have experienced deep trauma from family illness, death and loss of income.

The pandemic laid bare and exacerbated existing economic and social inequities, resulting in unequal access to rich learning opportunities. This is particularly true for students of color (i.e. Black Americans, Latinx, Native Americans) and students with disabilities, living in low-income rural communities, and involved in public systems. Uneven access to the internet, digital tools and supports available when school buildings are open meant many students weren’t able to continue their academic learning during the spring.

Yet like never before, we have an opportunity for districts and schools to build back better. Use this planning process to redefine what engagement looks like, what school leadership means, and how innovative, fun and student-centered learning can be enjoyable and empowering for both staff and students whether learning in person or remotely.

To assist educators and administrators in responding to the unique challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, Attendance Works developed Present, Engaged and Supported: A Guide to Planning Transitions to School. This guide calls for a systemic approach to supporting transitions to school that is data-informed and restorative. The guide is focused on providing deeper support for students who missed out on accessing school lessons, and on welcoming families, who are always essential partners in a child’s education. 

Using What We Already Know

To enable this work, we’ve developed multiple attendance metrics to ensure families, educators and community partners can detect when student absences add up. Absenteeism data is an essential warning sign that additional investments are needed to ensure positive conditions for learning are in place for all students.

Based upon our Five Key Ingredients of Change, this guide helps school and district leaders convene diverse teams to develop or strengthen locally tailored plans. The process and the accompanying tools help teams take stock of what is in place and identify urgent gaps. Please note, these materials are works in progress. Check back for updates.

Click on the linked titles below to obtain the materials tailored for leaders and teams operating at different levels.

This guide helps district leaders work with district and school teams to develop a data-informed back-to-school transition plan that supports the engagement of students and families who lost out on significant learning opportunities due to Covid-19, so that students are more likely to attend or participate. Find the guide.

This guide helps elementary and preschool leaders work with a school team to develop a data-informed back-to-school transition plan that supports the engagement of students and families who lost out on significant learning opportunities due to Covid-19, so that students are more likely to attend or participate. Find the guide.

This guide helps secondary school leaders work with district and school teams to develop a data-informed transition plan that supports the engagement of students and families who lost out on significant learning opportunities due to Covid-19, so that students are more likely to attend or participate. Find the guide.