HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – September is Attendance Awareness Month, and schools across the country are focusing on the importance of student attendance.

For the Hattiesburg Public School District, keeping kids in class is of top importance. Leaders said missing too many days of school could hinder a student’s performance.

“We encourage students to be in school every day in all class periods, because we understand that when a student is not at school regularly, their performance is not good academically,” said Hattiesburg High School Principal Victor Hubbard.

Chronic absenteeism is missing 18 or more days of the school year.

“As we say every day in our announcements, graduate on time, but graduating with opportunity, and those opportunities are going on to post-secondary education, enlisting in the branches of the military, all going directly into the workforce. And our students understand that. But of course, if they’re not in class every day, if they’re not attending school, those dreams do not become a reality,” said Hubbard.

Missing too many days could put a student significantly behind, causing teachers to scramble to catch them up.

“Most kids when they miss days, they’re behind on their work, and sometimes they’re afraid to ask the teacher for help, and sometimes that can be a disturbance,” said Sade Hollingsworth, district social worker.

Parents are notified when their child misses class. After a student reaches 13 absences, it’s reported to the state.

The Hattiesburg Public School District understands that some circumstances call for accommodations.

“If they’re sick for two or three days, they can have that many days to make up the work, but they’ll basically explain to them and tell them, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on,’ in a very detailed manner, so they understand the information,” said Hollingsworth.

Parents are encouraged to call their child’s school if a student will be out of class for more than three days.