@Kees.M.181 For automating reporting of attendance, I tend to recommend using a True/False quiz per class session (I was present today. T or F?) and then you can associate a grade item to give attendance points. Or hide the grade item/exclude from the final grade if you just want to keep track of but not give grades for attendance.
@Kees.M.181 You can set up single user groups and then restrict a discussion topic and separate the threads for private posts between you and each student.
Thanks, that seems to be a good solution.