Gaston Middle School attendance numbers increase during pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno Unified School is breaking attendance records amid distance learning.

The team at Gaston Middle School is going above and beyond to keep kids in class.

That includes making phone calls, home visits, even setting up a hotline that parents can text or call around the clock.

It's not just attendance staff, even the school principal is part of the action.

It's not uncommon to find Gaston Middle School Principal Courtney Curtis showing up at a student's doorstep.

"I've done more home visits this year than I've done in the last 16 years," said Curtis

"I guess the number one thing is it's a team effort," added Curtis. "Even if parents are asking is it an even day, or an odd day? Or when does school start today? Or can I get a device delivered to my student?"

Their efforts are paying off.

"Our attendance is the highest it's ever been in the past 7 years despite the pandemic," said Curtis.

Three years ago, 18% of Gaston's students were chronically absent, above the state average of 12%. During the pandemic, for many schools, that number has gone up, as kids and parents frustrated by technology stopped, but at Gaston attendance has improved. Only 11% of kids are now chronically absent.

"We want them to know we're they're not only because we want them to come to school, we're here because we care, we care about the students and their families," sadi Home/School Liaison Veronica Zamudio.

A former teacher himself ,Curtis says he wants to see his students succeed.

"We care for them we want them to be successful and that's the reason we're going to come knocking at your door, why were sending them messages and calling parents," said Curtis.

Gaston's daily attendance numbers have also increased to over 95%. This year between phone calls, voicemails and visits, they've logged nearly 10,000 attendance interventions for students.

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