90.7 WMFE and 89.5 WMFV are Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming and Classical Music. Part of the community since 1965, providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Chronic absenteeism showed up in a big way at Central Florida schools this year


Play Audio

Photo: Pixabay


Student absences were up throughout Central Florida last school year, and experts say it’s not just COVID that’s to blame. 

COVID absences continued long after the Omicron surge last winter says UCF professor Larry Walker. In Orange County Schools, 34 percent of the district missed the equivalent of two weeks during the 2021-2022 school year. 

Walker says minority students at underserved schools were particularly susceptible to chronic absenteeism due to a variety of factors like the affordable housing crisis and food insecurity. 

“COVID exacerbates all the issues we already had in our society particularly for marginalized populations specifically Black, Latino, Latina students. So what you’re seeing is the challenges of COVID-19 which are occurring now and which will occur years and decades from now.”

Walker says he’d like to see more therapists and counselors hired at schools to help students cope with the traumas they’ve faced over the last three school years. 

“It is critically important to make sure that there are social workers, more school psychologists and other mental health practitioners in schools to make sure students get the support they need. But the one thing I don’t want to do is I don’t want to specifically say that this is all on schools because it’s not.”

Walker says policymakers also have to be willing to use federal funding they receive to help solve some of the root causes of absenteeism. 

He says the long-term impact of students missing class will be felt by the US economy in the next few decades as workers are less prepared to fill high-demand STEM jobs. 


Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

GET THE LATEST
Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »

TOP