RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – A new task created to combat chronic absenteeism in Virginia schools is meeting Tuesday.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced the Chronic Absenteeism Task Force on Sept. 29, in response to the near doubling of absenteeism in Virginia classrooms as a result of the pandemic.

During the 2022-2023 school year, nearly one in five 3rd through 8th grade students were chronically absent, which is defined as missing 18 or more days of the school year. That’s nearly double the number of chronically absent students in the 2018-2019, prior to the pandemic. Data shows students missing this much school have lower math and reading scores than their peers who regularly attend school.

The goal is to get children back in the classroom consistently and back on track.

The task force will work to develop resources and an action plan for school divisions to address the record-high student absenteeism rates.

Tuesday’s meeting is open to the public and will be livestreamed on the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) YouTube Channel. It is taking place on Oct. 24 from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m.

The task force is made up of school superintendents, including new Newport News Superintendent Dr. Michele Mitchell, principals, board members, a parent and others.