“Even if schools do open again, the offer may not be exactly the same everywhere, and it may be that some students don't get all the hours they usually have,” Norway's education minister Guri Melby told the VG newspaper in an interview. “So we believe it will be most fair and most equal for all if we do not register absence.”
The decision will make it easier for those students who are worried about being infected to stay home, at least for a few days, when schools begin to open for older pupils, possibly from as early as next week.
But Melby warned that she still expected teachers to keep an eye on which students are attending, and to follow up absences, even if they would not affect students' record.
“Teachers have a duty to keep track of who shows up and who doesn't, and to follow up on those who don't come,” she said. “You have to learn as much as possible, and everything you do now counts on the grades.”
Rita Helgesen, head of the Norwegian Association of Graduate Teachers told The Local that she believed that scrapping the record of attendance until after the summer would only harm the most vulnerable students.
“It's an indirect signal to the pupils that it doesn't matter if you're there or you're not,” she said. “That's not very good for motivation, and it's more difficult to find out who's there, who's in danger of falling out [of the system], and when and how we need to act as soon as possible.”
She said she believed the decision not to register absence when Norway switched to distance learning had been a mistake.
“When this system started, Udir just communicated that one should not register absence, and then the signal was out there, and our members report that only 40% register absence” she said.
“I think you have some obligations when you attend upper secondary school and one of those obligations is to attend.”
Helgensen said that many of her members had been complaining that they had started to lose track of students after schools closed.
“They just don't appear. They don't hand in what they're supposed to had in, and these are the students that were in the grey area beforehand.”
Norway reopened primary schools for pupils aged six to 10 on April 27, and is expected to open schools for some elder pupils from as early as May 10 .