Schools Should Do Away With Perfect Attendance Awards

Remember back in school, when there were always a handful of kids who went home after awards ceremonies with perfect attendance certificates? I’d actually forgotten about those until a few years ago when I began sitting through my own children’s end-of-the-year accolades. As an adult, I can’t help but bite my tongue every year when I see awards given to a handful of children for their perfect attendance. The mom in me would like to find the parents of these children after the ceremony and personally thank them for allowing their child to come to school sick and infect the rest of the student and teacher population.

I used to catch every cold and flu bug floating around, but that eased up a bit when I began working at home and didn’t have to share space with co-workers who were bound and determined to save sick days or impress the boss with their “I’m really too sick to be here but came in because I’m just that dedicated” attitude. But then my kids started school and it all came flooding back.

Visit any school anywhere and you’re sure to find a kid with a fever or another with a runny nose. Maybe instead of rewarding perfect attendance, the schools could give special parenting awards out to those moms and dads who kept their sick kids home and spared the rest of us the pleasure of that particular virus.

I caught this article, Feeling Sick? Stay Home, by Marci Alboher in a NY Times blog the other day and learned a new word for the behavior that die-hard workers and never-miss-a-day students exhibit. It’s called presenteeism and it costs companies a lot of money.


  1. It sounds like a good idea. With most jobs, staying home because you’re sick is not an option. Between losing a day of income and the attendance policy were I work, I go to work pretty much anything short of vomiting.

  2. And I’m sure it’s that way at a lot of places, where policy and pay ‘force’ people to show up when it’s really in the company’s best interest for them not to. Thanks for the note, Tina! Here’s to a healthy spring. 😉

  3. While I understand your point, my children have had perfect attendance since kindergarten. They are now in fourth grade. I do not send my children to school if they are sick. They have been very fortunate not to catch other people’s colds. They truly have had “well” perfect attendance and they should be awarded not looked down upon with other people’s assumptions!

  4. @ Michele – I am impressed that your kids never get sick, but I still think it’s the exception rather than the rule. Parent’s who send their “well” children to school are responsible adults. Parents who send sick children to school are not. And children, at least in elementary school, have little to do with their actual attendance. Mom and dad make that decision. Perfect attendance awards actually reward the responsible parent who sends their “well” child to school AND the irresponsible parent who sends their “sick” child to school.

    I realize there are other reasons parents sometimes send sick children to school, but wouldn’t it be nice to take away one incentive and cut down on at least a portion of the “presenteeism” if it helped keep other kids from getting sick every school year?

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