It is the legal responsibility of parents or guardians to ensure that students are in school every school day for the entire instructional day, unless they are ill, have a true family emergency or have an extenuating circumstance that has been approved by the principal.  


According to an amendment to Section 22.1-258 of the Code of Virginia, whenever any pupil fails to report to school on a regular scheduled school day and no notification regarding the student’s absence has been received by the school personnel, a reasonable effort to notify the parent or guardian by telephone shall be made by school personnel. Parents are expected to contact the school if their child is going to be absent from school.


To be counted present for a class, the student must be in attendance for at least fifty percent of the class period. Please refer to the Smyth County School Board Student Athletic Handbook for attendance requirements for school sponsored/ extra-curricular activities.


Chronic absenteeism is a growing concern in Smyth County Schools. A student is chronically absent if they miss 10% of the school year (or 18 days) for any reason. Smyth County schools and Chilhowie High School are committed to reducing the number of students that are chronically absent. Students should be in school on-time and for the entire day – every day. In partnership with the Southwest Virginia United Way, Smyth County Schools has launched the “Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow” (#SmythStrivefor5) initiative to assist students, parents, and families in achieving improved student attendance. Detailed information will be shared with students and families as the school year progresses.

Excused absences include:

  • Medical excuses
  • Court appointment
  • Death in the family
  • Three (3) parent notes or phone calls on a block schedule or six (6) on a 180 day schedule indicating that the child was sick, had a medical or court appointment, or death in the family.

Documentation for all absences must be provided to the school within one week of the absence. After three (3) notes or phone calls from a parent on a block schedule or six (6) on a 180 day schedule, proper documentation must be provided. An example of proper documentation is a written excuse from the doctor’s office, clerk of the court’s office, or dentist office.


School administration may excuse absences if there are extenuating circumstances or emergencies that warrant such action and the student is considered in good standing with the school academically and has not been absent an excessive number of days. School administration may also excuse absences for family trips for a total of up to five (5) school days during the school year as long as the student is in good standing with the school and has not been absent from school an excessive number of days. Prior approval from the principal is required for a requested family trip to be an excused absence.

An absence is considered unexcused when it is avoidable and unnecessary, or if unsatisfactory documentation concerning the absence has been submitted to the school. (See excused absences above for documentation). If a student is suspended, the absence is considered unexcused.


Unexcused absences include:

No note or phone call from parent

Suspensions from school

Any absence(s) after three (3) parent notes or phone calls on a block schedule or six (6) on an 180 day schedule without documentation from a medical provider, clerk of the court’s office, or death in the family will remain unexcused.


Should a student accumulate five (5) unexcused absences, the principal or his/her designee will meet with the student and the parent or guardian to complete a truancy plan. Parents are required to cooperate; should a parent fail to attend this meeting or be uncooperative, the principal or his/her designee will refer the case to the SCS Truancy Officer.


If the student continues to be absent, the sixth (6th) unexcused absence from school will lead to the principal or his/her designee contacting the parent to inform the parent of the violation of the truancy plan and that additional unexcused absences will result in a referral to the SCS Truancy Officer and may include charges being filed against both parties (student and/or parent-guardian).


After seven (7) unexcused absences the case will be transferred to the Attendance Officer. The parent/guardian and the student will be required to meet with the Smyth County Interdisciplinary Team for recommendations to avoid future absences and court involvement. Failure to meet with this team will result in the matter being referred to the 28th District Court Service Unit for court intervention. The Interdisciplinary Team is a requirement of the Code of Virginia and is made up of members from community agencies that work with youth.


When a high school student has been absent from school, for a total of five (5) days unexcused on a block schedule or ten (10) days unexcused on an 180 day schedule, including suspensions, the student will take a one (1) point deduction per class period for every additional absence that is unexcused. Students are encouraged to make up the time lost per class in an effort to earn back points. Make-up sessions must be arranged with an administrator prior to the make-up session. The make-up sessions will be the length of time missed during the absence per class period.


When a student in grades 6 through 12 has been absent from school a total of:


3 days per semester – on a block schedule


6 days per school year – on all other full year curriculum schedules


a doctor’s note will be required for all subsequent absences to be excused.

Students are encouraged to make-up all class work missed due to being absent from class. Upon returning to class after an absence, students shall be informed of the work they have missed. Teachers will assign the make-up work and determine when the work will be completed. Students who believe additional time is needed must make arrangements with their individual teacher(s) and principal. At no time is a student to miss additional class time to make-up missed work.
Students are expected to arrive at school and attend all classes on time every day. Students should remain in school every day for the entire academic school day. After ten (10) unexcused tardies to school and/or early dismissals, the principal or his/her designee will meet with the student and send a letter to parents concerning the importance of being at school on time and for the entire school day. When the student has fifteen (15) unexcused tardies to school and/or early dismissals, the principal or his/her designee will either schedule a meeting with the student and parents or will refer the matter to the Attendance Officer. A referral may be made to other community agencies, such as Department of Social Services for intervention.
Once a student arrives on school property, he or she may not leave without administrative permission prior to the end of the regularly scheduled school day. Student will be permitted to leave school prior to dismissal for legitimate illness, emergencies, participation in approved extracurricular activities, or at specific written direction of the parent or guardian. The principal or his/her designee must approve all early dismissals.