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US Teachers and social workers search for students who are 'missing' in the pandemic

20:50  19 october  2020
20:50  19 october  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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Student assessments are also moving online, with a lot of trial and error and uncertainty for everyone. The idea is that they continue their education at home, in the hope of not missing out too much. This is a new area for both teachers and students , and assessments will likely have larger

In California's Robla School District, the littlest of the 2,000 students are in pre-K, then there are the kindergartners up to sixth graders. On any given day, up to 200 of them are missing from the school's virtual lessons.

a woman standing in front of a car: Laurie Butler-Echandia, left, and Elisa Olmo say they often find no one at home. © CNN Laurie Butler-Echandia, left, and Elisa Olmo say they often find no one at home.

First, the teachers reach out, calling and sending messages. Then school principals try to make contact -- calling again, sometimes seeing if there is a brother or sister in a different class to let them know what's going on.

And if all that fails to reach the children and their parents, teams of social workers take up the case, to see what can be done to get students back to class, even virtually, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Teachers need the right tools and support to teach online. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic Also missing is the much needed “presence” provided by teachers in elementary school, who often The stress of leaving campus in the midst of a pandemic also adds to their mental health burden.

"We have some families that are having a difficult time with life in general right now," Elisa Olmo told CNN recently as she set out to try to find missing students in Robla, a district in Sacramento, California.

"They're losing their jobs, they're maybe losing their house. And so school gets put on the back burner."

Robla School District Superintendent Ruben Reyes said he was very concerned about the 10% of students who were regularly missing class. The district has done what it can to get devices and Wi-Fi access to families who need them and is now focused on its "student find" program to make sure children are making it to school. He said 20% of his students have no permanent home and 90% live under the federal poverty limit.

"Very often ... we need to physically go out to the home that we have on record, the address, and see if we can reach the family in that way," he said.

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For all students , this is also a time to develop socio-emotional skills and learn more about how to contribute to society as a citizen. The mission of all education systems is the same. It is to overcome the learning crisis we were already living and respond to the pandemic we are all facing.

We asked students how their lives have changed since the onset of this pandemic . We missed each other and being in the presence of people other than our family; however, we were We can accomplish this by simply observing who may need help with shopping, for groceries or clothes, with

"There've been some very interesting stories. Families who were just gone -- the instability of poverty is a big part of this -- so they were there, and now they're not."

Other times, it's an easier remedy like a lost computer cord that can be replaced. And sometimes children have been found left unsupervised and referrals may need to be made to social service agencies.

"It's not about getting anybody in trouble or catching anybody doing anything bad," Reyes stressed. "It's really about really trying to provide whatever that family needs to help their child to be successful."

Sudden drops in enrollment

School districts across the US are seeing plummets in the numbers of children enrolled for classes in the pandemic.

Chicago Public Schools have nearly 15,000 fewer students than this time last year, and Dallas was short of more than 13,000 students, CNN affiliate KTVT reported. It's a similar story across the country as many schools offer virtual-only instruction. Large drops have been seen in pre-K enrollment, Chicago, Dallas and others say, but they do not account for nearly all the missing students.

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Huge fall in adoptions because social workers are using to Zoom to work with families and children during coronavirus pandemic . Only just over one in 20 children living with their families but at high risk had spoken with a social worker in the same period.

Cancellations are affecting future students as well—admitted students ’ events, open houses, and It also means another hurdle for those who hesitate to speak up, even in the best of circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue presenting challenges beyond those that come up in the

When students do enroll, schools still see absences and declines in online participation from middle and upper-class areas, where families may have opted for group pods, homeschooling or moving children to private schools. But challenges are magnified in lower-income districts like Robla.

The concern among educators like Robla's superintendent is not just for the immediate, but for the future. Studies show chronic absenteeism can lead to third graders unable to master reading and ninth graders dropping out of school altogether, according to Attendance Works, a non-profit advocacy and research group.

Laurie Butler-Echandia, who was out looking for missing students in Sacramento with Olmo, said the most challenging days were when she seemed to get nowhere.

"It's when the families aren't there. That's the hardest, which happens quite a bit," she said.

This day, she and Olmo did connect with a single father and walked him through how to help get his 11-year-old daughter online.

Outcomes like that buoy Superintendent Reyes: "Those are the heartening stories that I hear from my staff -- we visited this family, and now this child is coming to school."

And with that student back online, the team moves on. "We cannot let even one child slip through the cracks," Reyes said. "That's a lofty thing to say, but that has to be our goal."

a man wearing a suit and tie: Robla Superintendent Ruben Reyes promises to look for every child who should be in school. © CNN Robla Superintendent Ruben Reyes promises to look for every child who should be in school.

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usr: 9
This is interesting!