What to Do When


  1. If you’re working with a coalition, plan a meeting and agree on activities. See resources for educators and community partners and sample yearlong planning calendars.
  2. Recruit partners to support the work. See Who Can Help.
  3. Ensure health care providers are involved so they can help clarify health guidance and share information on attendance during back-to-school checkups. See our tools for health providers.
  4. If possible, secure and review YTD chronic absence data to identify which schools, grades and student groups need additional support. See our free data tools.
  5. Identify one or two local schools that are bright spots. These schools that serve low-income students but have better-than-average attendance can inspire others to act. Learn how to identify positive outliers.
  6. Launch a student poster contest or video contest, with winning entries to be displayed during September. See the Count Us In! toolkit for more information.
  7. Use our Belonging to School multitiered sample of activities or actions that your school or district can take to create a feeling of belonging in the spring for current and prospective students and that encourage daily attendance until the last day of school. Use this Belonging to School template to create your own approach.

Early Summer

  1. Enlist elected officials to sign proclamations.
  2. Recruit local sports stars and celebrities for school visits/and assemblies.
  3. Recruit local faith leaders to speak to congregations about attendance.
  4. Distribute talking points to key partners. Use our Key Messages for 2023.
  5. Line up incentives from businesses and other partners for contests. See our guidance and tips for incentives.
  6. Use end-of-the-year data to crunch the numbers for chronic absence. See our free data tools.
  7. Use our Bridges to School multitiered sample of activities to develop actions your school and district can take to strengthen connections, especially for students entering elementary, middle or high school.

Late Summer

  1. Tape radio or TV public service announcements. See our guidelines for developing TV and Radio PSAs.
  2. Begin media outreach.
  3. Meet with local newspaper editorial boards to encourage editorials.
  4. Submit a commentary piece to local media in mid-to late August.
  5. Pitch a reporter about the community’s or school district’s renewed emphasis on attendance and engagement.
  6. Print banners and posters. See our promotion materials.
  7. Plan a display about why showing up matters. See our promotion materials.
  8. Plan student assemblies and parent summits. See the resources in the Count Us In! toolkit for more.
  9. Launch a door-knocking campaign to remind families when school starts and build a sense of belonging. See our messaging for families in the Showing Up Matters for R.E.A.L. toolkit.
  10. If schools open in August, hold first-day-of-school events that cultivate relationships to adults and peers at school and stress the importance of attendance.


  1. Announce proclamations.
  2. If schools open in September, hold first-day-of-school events stressing the importance of attendance.
  3. Hold an end-of-the-month summit, rewarding students with good or improved attendance.
  4. Launch an attendance contest among schools and classes.
  5. Host a press conference talking about the community’s or school district’s emphasis on attendance.
  6. Pitch reporters to attend assemblies or report on celebrity visits.
  7. Unveil an attendance display.
  8. If you’ve crunched chronic absence numbers, share with the school board, city officials and, if appropriate, the public.
  9. Share tweets (#SchoolEveryDay) and Facebook posts about the Attendance Awareness Campaign.

The first weeks back to school are an important time to strengthen and forge relationships, to rebuild routines and rituals to create your community at school. Consider using our Create Communities at School with sample activities and actions developed using a multi-tiered support system.