Some south-west educators say attention has slipped and internal suspensions risen in a stressful year for students after 17 weeks of remote learning.
But a Victorian Department of Education spokeswoman said attendance at schools in the Barwon south-west region had remained steady at 88 per cent this term, exactly what it was in term four of 2019.
"Victorian school students and staff have welcomed a return to on-site learning and we have put in place a range of supports in 2020 to ensure that every Victorian student continues to receive the education they deserve," she said.
Warrnambool WAVE school campus co-ordinator Damian Farley said a small number of students had disengaged entirely, some preferred remote learning and others showed signs of stress.
"The impact of COVID and lock down has reduced things like attention span, concentration and behavioural regulation," Mr Farley said.
"It's important we are being flexible around those needs. It's no surprise COVID has been a tough year, every single person is walking around with more stress."
Portland private school Bayview College principal Michelle Kearney said the school had lost two students this year who could not be re-engaged despite the support available.
"There has been isolated pockets of students disengaging due to attendance, but the overall data would be much the same," Ms Kearney said.
"Then you have the bigger issues of those who have returned and the change in their levels of engagement."
She said for some students with complex needs there was noticeable absenteeism, work avoidance, and increased requirements for counsellors.
"We are a school with minimal behavioural issues, we rarely have suspensions or expulsions. Students being out of class because of behavioural issues for internal suspensions, my feeling is that could have increased this year," Ms Kearney said.
"The amount of conversations about students being nice to each other, that feels like it has increased this year."
Warrnambool College principal David Clift said the school was on track for attendance to increase by about two days per student this year compared with 2019.
"It is evidence of all the supports put in palace and partnerships during remote learning ensured students could be as engaged as possible," Mr Clift said.
The school has been given the green light to have year six students on campus next month for an induction day before commencing next year and is working on creating opportunities for social engagement, particularly for year seven students.
The Education Department's spokeswoman said the government was spending $28.5 million to ensure more students can receive more support since returning from remote learning.
It includes increasing the capacity of the Navigator Program by a third, to directly support more secondary students at highest risk of disengaging from school.
There will also be more than 4100 tutors across Victorian schools in 2021 to help bridge learning gaps and increase engagement.
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