Teachers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are going above and beyond to make sure students are heading to class.
Over the weekend, hundreds of Broward teachers and district staff members went door to door to get students back in the classroom. About 6,000 Broward County Public Schools students are unaccounted for and 2,000 have excessive absences.
“We were able to have that face-to-face conversation for about a third of those knocks. Just trying to locate our students. We found a lot had moved away, found a lot had gone to private school, some who went to charter schools, and then we found some that were home," said interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright.
In Miami-Dade county, school administrators and social workers also continue to use an all-hands-on-deck approach to locate students. Currently, there are about 635 students unaccounted for in the district.
“It’s not different than pre-pandemic, but obviously the pandemic is causing greater concern because of the academic regression we’ve seen," said Daisy Gonzalez-Diego of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
In Broward, the largest number of no-shows is at the elementary level. In Miami-Dade, it’s high school students.
"There is a truancy law. We have not reached the 90 days, but there is a truancy law for students who are not in school," Gonzalez-Diego said. "We do work with the court system, but we are trying for that not to happen. We are really trying to talk to parents encourage them to send their children. For those students who have excessive absences, we have about 500 of those and that is obviously concerning to us as well.”
Organizations like the Children’s Trust often work with families. The associate director of programs says it is concerning so many kids are out of the classroom where red flags such as child abuse are spotted by teachers.
“We know that with the pandemic, the most vulnerable children are the ones that continue to be at higher risk, and so we know schools have always been a place where they receive some of the resources they don't have at home," said Tatiana Canelas, associate director of programs at the Children’s Trust. "So it is so important they come back to the schools."
If you know or are aware of a Broward County Public Schools student who is not attending school, the district is asking for people to contact them at email@example.com or to call 754-321-1767.