Main activities: involve the early identification of students with high absenteeism followed by a methodological approach involving a strong focus of school actors on students, cooperation with parents, and advice from the youth healthcare physicians. MASS provides a framework and a clear route in which the school and youth health care physician can operate in case of sickness absence. MASS tells everybody involved in student’s school carrier when to act upon sick reports of students, and how: namely, by showing interest rather than control in every step.
A systematic process is followed, involving 6 steps:
- The school communicates that it is a school’s rule to participate in MASS. The school explains to students and parents their concerns about the sickness absence and the wish to improve the situation. It is emphasized that discussing the absence is from concern and not from control.
- Registration is always followed by contacting the student.
- By using fixed criteria, also called the MASS-criteria (reported sick four times in 12 school weeks or more than six consecutive school days), students are actively traced. Then, school always has a dialogue face-to-face with students and parents. Note: the MASS criteria have been investigated in secondary education, not in Vocational Education and Training (yet; the research is going on). In VET, the criteria can be determined by the school itself.
- When this conversation does not lead to any results or is not fruitful, school can ask a consultation with the YHCP. Most of the time this is because of medical complaints or a diagnosed disease, because as a teacher or guidance counsellor you miss medical expertise
- During the consultation, the physician, together with the student and the parents, identifies any underlying physical or psychosocial problem. The physician consults – if necessary - medical specialists already involved, and offers advices and counselling to improve student’s health and well-being and maximize the attendance to school activities. Focusing not only on diagnosis, cure and care, but also on how to cope with this disease and to manage one’s life. When needed, the physician sends the student to a specialist or a psychosocial support network. A management plan is made, which describes the agreements made and actions to be taken by students, parents, school and professionals in the cure and care. The plan also includes evaluation moments.
- Monitoring he management plan, by school and YHCF.
The above process can vary in terms of interview locations, interviewees or acceptability thresholds of absenteeism (for VET, see above).
Furthermore, the measure serves as a guideline for schools. They stay autonomous in how they implement it.