Attendance dips at area schools on day of Seahawks parade

February 5, 2014 

Did the Seattle Seahawks victory parade inspire kids and teachers to play hooky Wednesday?

While area school districts were unable to say with certainty which absences were caused by Seahawks-related “blue flu,” several did report higher than usual rates of absences.

Seattle Public Schools said Wednesday that more than 25 percent of the district's 51,000 students were absent in the morning. By comparison, about 5 percent were absent the day before.

The Seattle School District also said 565 teachers were absent, far more than usual. The district says some of those absences were filled with substitutes while others were covered by instructional assistants.

Tacoma Public Schools reported about 22 percent of its more than 28,000 students missing Wednesday. That compares with only 9 percent on Tuesday. The district also said staff absences were up about 10 percent more than normal.

High school students from the Gig Harbor-area Peninsula School District were reportedly out in full force on a Seattle-bound ferry Wednesday morning. The Puyallup School District reported 5,532 students absent Wednesday, a number the district termed "higher than normal."

The Bethel School District said it had 16 teaching positions for which the district was unable to find substitute teachers, and had to use other staff members. A district spokesman said that number was slightly higher than usual, but also noted that Bethel sponsored a teacher training on Wednesday that might have played into it.

In Puyallup, Tacoma and Fife, students were invited to celebrate "Blue Wednesday" by wearing Seahawks gear to school. In Fife, the school district website asked families attending the Seahawks parade to notify their child's school office so that the absence could be marked as an excused absence.

In Thurston County, Tumwater School District spokeswoman Kim Howard said attendance levels in the nearly 6,600-student district were “significantly impacted” Wednesday morning by the Seahawks parade in Seattle, about 70 miles away.

But parents in that district won’t have to worry about coming up with fake doctor appointments or other reasons to get their students’ absence excused.

“When parents call in to excuse their children to attend the parade, this is an excused absence for a parental approved activity,” Howard said. “Parents are making an educational choice for their kids to attend the parade rather than attend school.”

Staff writers Debbie Cafazzo, Lisa Pemberton and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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