Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Schools Look to Texts for Tackling Attendance Problems

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Schools Look to Texts for Tackling Attendance Problems

Article excerpt

Local schools will soon be tackling chronic absenteeism using a tool familiar to students themselves: texting.

The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh will introduce a pilot program as part of its Be There Attendance Initiative. The Be There program is expanding to more schools this fall with a $30,000 gift from Pitt and the same amount in matching funds.

Participating schools will encourage parents to sign up for the texting platform, which will send an automated message once a month updating parents on their child's attendance. Pitt's Office of Child Development created the program.

"The family member can text back if they're having any issues with child getting to school," and a real person from the 211 helpline will follow up, said ?Shauna McMillan?, United Way manager of Programs for Children and Youth, United Way.

According to a Pitt study, housing instability is the top reason students are chronically absent, which means missing at least two days of school a month. …

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