One month into in-person learning, some California districts are reporting soaring rates of absenteeism due to stay-at-home quarantines, fear of COVID-19 and general disengagement from school, according to a report by EdSource.

Even districts that typically have had relatively high attendance before COVID are seeing big increases in chronic absenteeism, with some students missing more than 10% of school days.

The California Department of Education has not yet released statewide attendance data for the 2021-22 school year, but some school districts shared their attendance reporting with EdSource.

Stockton Unified School District said that so far 39% of its students have been chronically absent, more than double the rate two years ago. The district’s truancy outreach workers are visiting up to 60 homes a day, offering incentives like prizes and backpacks, to encourage students to come to school.

Oakland Unified School District also reported that almost 33% of students were chronically absent as of mid-September. Among transitional kindergartners to fifth graders, the rate was higher than 37%. Two years ago, only 14% in that age group were chronically absent.

Elk Grove Unified School District, located just outside of Sacramento, reported that more than 26% of its students have been chronically absent since school started, nearly three times the rate two years ago.

In many rural districts, chronic absenteeism was a problem long before the pandemic. Poverty and geographic isolation make it difficult for some children to get to school regularly, and districts are constantly trying to address the underlying causes with new programs.