How to write an excuse for school absence

How do you write an excuse letter for school absence?

Writing a letter for a school absence starts with reading the school’s absence policy for directions on submitting your excuse. Follow the guidelines and draft your letter or email with an appropriate greeting, reason for writing, provide a good reason for missing, and your contact information. Always maintain keep your letters professional and short.

Fortunately, I put together this guide to help you craft the best absence excuse letter. I’ll show you how to follow your school’s guidelines and write a good excuse note to turn your unexpected absences into excused.

Key Takeaways:

  • The school’s absence policy lays out the guidelines for absences. You must follow your school’s absence policy, which will change depending on the school.
  • The absence policy will often list who to contact and if you must submit an email, formal letter, or proof of absence.
  • Valid reasons for an absence may be included in the absence policy. Absences are often excused for family emergencies, medical appointments, illnesses, and observations of religious holidays.
  • Keep your absence letter short. The school just needs to know why the student was absent, the date of absence, and how to contact you if any questions arise.

Writing an excuse note for school absence

This article may contain affiliate links which pay a commission and support this blog. Thank you for your support!

How to write an excuse letter for school absence

School absence letters are typically provided to the appropriate school administrators by the child’s legal guardians. The absence note will often be used to determine if a child’s absence should count as excused or unexcused. The best way to write a formal excuse letter includes:

  1. Understanding the school’s policy on absences
  2. Start with an appropriate greeting
  3. State the reason for writing
  4. Provide a reason covered by the absence policy
  5. Provide your contact information
  6. Keep it short and professional
  7. Be honest

Ultimately, the school will decide if the student’s absence counts as excused or unexcused.

Understand the school’s policy on absences

Every school has an attendance policy which you will need to follow in order to have an excused absence. Typically, you can find the attendance policy online or you can request a copy of the attendance policy through the School’s attendance office.

The School’s attendance policy will dictate how you can request time off and what procedures need to be followed.

Most commonly, the attendance policy will provide an email address for you to contact when your student will be absent. However, some schools may also have you write a formal letter or provide an excuse note and bring it to the school’s attendance office.

School attendance policy

For example, a quick Google search pulls up St. Joseph’s Academy’s attendance policy. From this policy, we can understand that:

  1. Absences due to illness must be emailed to the Student Life Coordinator by a specific time.
  2. Other absences must be emailed to the Dean of Women at least one day before the absence for consideration.
  3. The most school days a student can miss in a semester is 15.
  4. Doctor’s appointments should be scheduled outside of school hours to the greatest extent possible. Appointments during school must be excused with an email to the Student Life Coordinator and a doctor’s note provided upon return.

But for now, read through the policy and understand how you are supposed to request time off for school absence.

Start with a greeting

The school’s absence policy will often tell you who is in charge of reporting School absences. If the absence policy lists someone specifically, your greeting should be to that person. You can use a generic greeting if you don’t know who the School absence coordinator is.

In the example of Saint Joseph’s Academy, the current policy lists Cristina Benigno as the Student Life Coordinator for illness related absences. Other absences are to be reported to Christina Myles.

So for a school illness, your greeting would be similar to one of the following:

Dear Cristina,


Ms./Mrs. Benigno,

Dear Ms./Mrs. Benigno,

For other absences, your greeting would be directed to Christina Myles, the Dean of Women at the school. So your greeting would be similar to one of the following:

Dear Christina,


Ms./Mrs. Myles,

Dear Ms./Mrs. Myles,

Side note, notice how the Student Life Coordinator and Dean of Women are both named Christina, but one has a ‘h’ and the other does not? Make sure you’re paying attention to not misspell people’s names!

A generic greeting might be best, especially if the absence policy doesn’t list anyone specific. Some of the best generic greetings include:

To whom it may concern

Attendance office

Attendance coordinator

Chances are you are likely aware of who the attendance coordinator is at your school.

State the reason for your letter

The next step is to state the reason you are writing your letter to the school. In this case, the reason is informing the school attendance officer of an existing or planned absence and including the date of the absence.

You should also clarify that you’re looking for an excused absence. Excused absences are accepted by your school as a valid reason for missing class.

Examples of stating the reason for your letter may include:

Please excuse my daughter, Jane Doe, for missing class on January 3rd.

I would like to request an excused absence for my son, John Doe, for missing school on May 8th.

Provide a reason for absence

Providing a good reason for your school absence is very important if you want an excused absence. The attendance office will evaluate your reason for being away from school and determine if an excused absence is acceptable.

In some cases, unexcused absence does not count against your attendance record. Too many unexcused absences could result in the student being counted as truant.

Valid reasons for school absences may include:

  1. Doctor’s visit
  2. Illness or signs of illness (e.g., high fever, strep throat, stomach ache, severe headache)
  3. Pre-existing health condition
  4. Family emergencies (See this guide for the best family emergency excuses for school absences)
  5. Religious holidays

An examples of stating the reason for absence may include:

Jane Doe was unable to make it to school due to an illness.

Note that you can provide justification as part of your reason if you wish.

Due to the severity of the illness, we felt it was in Jane’s and the school’s best interest to keep her home from school.

You should also be aware that certain personal reasons may not be considered acceptable reasons to use on an absence note. For example, a family vacation may not be accepted by the child’s school depending on the school or school districts policy. You should consult the absence policy or discuss with a school official (e.g., the school principal or attendance officer) for longer absences or any reason not covered by the absence policy.

Provide your contact information

You should provide a means of being able to reach out to you in case the school has any further questions on the absence. The most common reason a school will reach out to you is if they need proof of the absence.

Typically, you do not need to provide your contact information if you are responding by email. The school already has your email address and we’ll be able to reach out to you through a reply.

However, if you are sending your child with an excuse note then you should provide a phone number. Providing a phone number will give the school a convenient way of contacting you.

Keep the excuse letter short

There’s no need to write out a long drawn-out excuse note. All the school needs to know are the dates the child missed, why they miss school, and any proof as required by the absence policy.

Keep the letter polite and professional

Always keep your excuse notes polite and professional to avoid any unnecessary conflict. Usually, keeping conversations polite isn’t an issue. However, some parents may get a little feisty if they don’t receive an excused absence.

Keep in mind, written communication can be a record. In other words, it doesn’t look good and there is proof of being unkind if you write something nasty in a letter or email.

Avoid making up an excuse

Personally, I find that making excuses always leads to being found out. You may think it was ok to say your daughter was sick so you could go to a Taylor Swift concert. However, you never know when your six year old is going to rat you out saying, “I wasn’t sick. We went to a concert!”

Sample excuse letter for school absence

So we’ve discussed what makes up the great elements of writing a school absence letter. So let’s put it all together and show you a completed letter and email sample for requesting time off for your school absence.

Excuse letter example 

Here’s an example School absence letter which I may use if my child was absent from school.

To whom it may concern,

Please excuse my daughter, Jane Doe, from school last January 3rd. Jane was extremely sick and we felt it was best to keep her home for Jane’s and the class’s sake. 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

[Your Name]

[Your phone number]

Excuse email for absence template

Sending an email excuse is almost identical to sending a letter. Here’s a sample I might send if my child was absent from school.

To whom it may concern,

Please excuse my son, John Doe, from school on May 18. We had an unexpected death in the family and we felt it best to give time for grieving. We will keep you informed as funeral arrangements are made and if further time off is needed.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

[Your name]

Do you need to prove your school absence?

Proving a school absence is largely dependent on the school absence policy. Failure to provide proof of your absence may result in an unexcused absence.

In general, schools will request that appointments be scheduled for outside of school hours. However, appointments that cannot be scheduled for outside of school hours will often require proof, such as a doctor’s note.

Consult your school’s absence policy to determine what rules are applicable to you.

John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.