PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With the first few weeks of school behind them, Providence Public Schools said they’re seeing an increase in attendance.

Last year, more than half of the district’s students were chronically absent, meaning they missed 10% or more of the school year.

According to data provided by the district, during the first 34 days of school, just over 41% of students were chronically absent. During the same time period last year, as the pandemic continued to be a big factor, the rate was almost 65%.

While there’s been an improvement, Superintendent Javier Montañez said they are continuing their push to get kids to show up, which he said would be the biggest challenge at the start of the year.

The district tasked a team with boosting attendance, which Montañez gave credit to for the improvement.

“Door knocking, going to the houses, finding out what are some of the obstacles that are keeping them from returning to school, and then trying to figure out solutions to help the students and the parents to make sure the students are in school,” Montañez explained.

Overall attendance has increased roughly one percent since last year during the first 34 days of school. So far this year, the overall attendance rate is almost 87%, while last year it was almost 86%.

Stephen Grace, the Providence district’s coordinator of student support, told 12 News a number of factors contribute to student absences.

“There could be many. Food insecurity, as we all know, we’re coming off of a pandemic, so that was one of them, transportation, and a lot of our students are economically disadvantaged,” Grace said.