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SC education officials working to reach students who have been unaccounted for since school closures

SC education officials working to reach students who have been unaccounted for since school...
SC education officials working to reach students who have been unaccounted for since school closures(Jason Raven)
Updated: Jul. 1, 2020 at 3:53 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Education has released their plans to connect with students they’ve had minimal or no contact with since the pandemic forced schools to close in mid-March.

According to the officials, about 2% of the state’s student population, or 16,000 students are unaccounted for at the moment.

RELATED STORY Ι SC schools report more than 16,000 students have been unaccounted for since statewide school closures

The state Department of Education said they surveyed the principals of the state’s 1272 schools to get an accurate count of the student’s schools had been unable to connect with.

They said in many cases, students had moved or a personal circumstance such as student work, family health, at home internet connectivity, or a language barrier contributed to students and their families not responding to school attempts to contact them.

According to their survey, some schools noted that district grading policies and a view of COVID-19 school closures as time off played a role in their inability to contact students and receive assigned school work.

To get in touch with these 16,000 students, the SC Department of Education has developed a plan to begin with school districts reporting the highest percentage of their student population unaccounted for.

State education officials said they will provide assistance to schools and districts through its state and federal program offices. Which include staff who work regularly with special student populations that COVID-19 is known to adversely impact and who schools are regularly known to have difficulty reaching.

These populations include migrant, homeless, English language learners, students with disabilities, students at risk, and students in poverty, according to the state Department of Education.

They said their staff who handle family and community engagement efforts will also assist in efforts to involve local churches, non-profits, and other organizations to reach these students.

According to the South Carolina Department of Education, they will also work in consultation with school districts to provide data to the South Carolina Department of Social Services and other state and federal agencies in an effort to identify students who may already be a part of their information systems and have caseworkers assigned to them. They said they will work together to collaborate on actionable items from findings and work with school districts and local level agencies to conduct any needed follow-up.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services sent us this statement earlier Wednesday:

“The Department of Education is serving as the lead agency on this task and is working with individual schools and districts to complete a survey of students with limited or no contact since statewide closures of school. The ReOpenSC Senate Select Committee’s report to the Senate President as of June 11, 2020, included a recommendation that the Department of Education shall seek the assistance of the Department of Social Services to help locate students who were unengaged with schools during the period of school closure and DSS is ready and willing to assist at the Department of Education’s direction.”

State education officials said they will update these numbers from school districts as summer and fall learning progresses.

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