Absent from Class: Do you know where your student is?
At the peak of COVID related school closures at least 55.1 million students in 124,000 U.S. public and private schools were transferred to online and remote learning classes. As schools reopen for in-person learning, students in minority and underserved communities are missing from school district enrollment rolls in alarming numbers.
Well over one million students (some experts argue three million students) in the U.S. possibly haven’t attended school – online or in person- since pandemic-related closures began in March of 2020, according to estimates released recently by Bellwether Education Partners.
Pulling from news reports and federal data sources, a team of researchers predicted that between 10 and 25 percent of students in the most marginalized populations have completely missed out on learning for the past ten months.
As schools reopened this past fall during the pandemic, some of the largest school districts in the nation, including Detroit, Philadelphia and New York saw an unprecedented decrease in student enrollment.
According to data compiled by Education Week, most states are dealing with a wide array of approaches to reopening schools in an attempt to return to in-person learning. The big takeaway: Most schools are in minority communities with high rates of the virus.
The delays in-school re-openings and ever-changing schedules have been frustrating to parents and students with limited resources and access, consequently in a study conducted by “60 Minutes” 240,000 students in 78 of the nation’s largest school districts have not returned to school. In Florida alone, 87,000 students are missing from enrollment lists statewide since the 2020-2021 school year began.
“They’re not coming in and not logging on, so we wonder where did they go,” said one concerned educator. “We know that just one percent of our most marginalized kids not coming to school might not seem like a lot in any one district, and many districts might not even be keeping careful count, but that’s more than 230 schools’ worth of children across the country — and we think that’s a big deal,” said Hailly T.N. Korman, a senior associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners , a Washington-based non-profit
No one is keeping track of how many kids nationwide are not in school because of the pandemic, but the two largest teachers unions in the country – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers told “60 Mintues” staff that their members have seen significant drops in student attendance, especially in minority and disadvantaged communities without access to computers and the internet for online learning.
Kiara Bogle is a Hillsborough County senior. For months, Kiara was one of those thousands of unaccounted-for students.
“It’s kind of hard,” explained Bogle. The ambitious high-schooler says her family was impacted by the pandemic. When schools went virtual, she moved in with her grandmother.
“Without a laptop, I didn’t have one at the time. So, I had to do my school work on my phone. So, it was kind of difficult to really get on and do all of that at the same time with everything,” Bogle explained to Jennifer Titus.
President Biden’s call on Congress to pass a relief bill that includes an additional $130 billion in aid for schools to help deal with the COVID crisis, debates about how schools should respond to the pandemic are likely to continue. The issues emerging regarding the “new normal” for school and education, one of the biggest issues is the impact of tracking these children in virtual and in-person learning environments. Where are the children?
“It’s just a matter of slowly chipping away and finding whose moved or whose maybe living with another family. Because the economic issues have impacted our families and they have moved in with other families or relatives,” said one Florida social worker charged with locating absent kids..
According to data compiled by Education Week, most states are dealing with a wide array of approaches to reopening schools in an attempt to return to in-person learning. The big takeaway: Most schools are in communities with high rates of the virus. Under the new recommendations, they would not be able to bring all of their students back to campuses full-time.
President Biden’s call on Congress to pass a relief bill that includes an additional $130 billion in aid for schools to help deal with the COVID crisis, debates about how schools should respond to the pandemic are likely to continue. The issues emerging regarding the “new normal” for school and education, one of the biggest issues remains the impact of diminished learning opportunities for children in virtual and in-person learning environments. But the larger and more critical issue is still – where are the children?
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