The number of children going to school regularly has improved.
Ministry of Education figures published today showed 59.5 percent of pupils attended more than 90 percent of their classes in term one this year, up from 46.1 percent in term one last year.
But the result was lower than before the pandemic, when 72.8 percent of pupils attended regularly in term one, 2019.
Māori students had the lowest rate of regular attendance at 44.9 percent, followed by Pacific students at 47.6 percent, Pākeha at 62.8, and Asian 70.6.
Prior to the pandemic, in term one 2019, 59.7 percent of Māori students were regular attenders, as were 63.2 percent of Pacific pupils, 76.1 percent of Pākeha, and 80.5 percent of Asian pupils.
The figures also showed 8.3 percent of children missed 30 percent or more of their classes in term one, the benchmark for chronic absence, down from 14.2 percent last year.
Illness was the leading cause of absence in term one, accounting for 4.7 percent of classroom time, followed by truancy at 2.3 percent.
"Incidence of Covid-19 in the community continued to be associated with an increase in medical absences compared to 2019 (pre-Covid-19) and was the main driver of non-attendance in Term 1 2023. This suggests that students and their parents continue to follow Ministry of Health advice i.e., for students to stay home if unwell," the ministry's attendance report said.
The figures showed 54,037 children ditched school for a family holiday in the first school term, and their absences were equivalent to 0.8 percent of term one classroom time, more than in term one of any of the previous four years.
"The reopening of the New Zealand border in July 2022 and the end of most Covid-19 restrictions in September 2022 are likely to be contributing factors to the increase in holidays during term time, including family reunification following Covid-19 restrictions," the report said.
Te Tai Tokerau and Hawke's Bay/Tai Rāwhiti had the lowest rates of regular attendance at 48 percent, while Auckland and Canterbury had the highest at 63 percent.
-John Gerritsen, RNZ
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