JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thousands of Duval County students expected to attend school this academic year have yet to appear after five school days, according to the district.
“The unique challenges associated with reopening schools amid COVID-19 have resulted in a number of students and families who have not connected with their schools,” DCPS Spokeswoman Laureen Ricks said Thursday.
As of Wednesday, the district said nearly 9,700 students who were expected to attend classes this fall haven’t shown up in their respective learning format. Some of the “missing” students were expected to participate in online learning and others, at a physical school.
On Thursday afternoon, Ricks announced the number of students still unaccounted for was down to about 6,800, a decrease of about 30% from the previous day. Ricks noted that the estimation is based on spring enrollment projections.
“We have about 6,800 students who haven’t showed up in any way shape or form,” said Tracy Pierce, DCPS chief of communications. “They haven’t come to virtual school and they haven’t come to brick and mortar school.”
The district said it’s urging families to check in with their respective schools notify their administrators if they haven’t yet done so.
Ricks also said staff members have been working to contact students who have not logged on or shown up to class, including bilingual staff and support specialists who are reaching out to families whose primary language is not English.
“This includes district social workers and truant officers calling parents and making home visits,” Ricks said. “Through these efforts, over 11,800 students have returned since Monday.”
Some parents, like Lola Sweet, are concerned their student might be on the list of unaccounted students due to a login issue with Duval HomeRoom.
“She couldn’t login at all. And if she can’t login, she’s still not able to do all of her work, she’s still marked absent in a lot of classes,” Sweet said.
Pierce said that’s not the case. He said the students they are looking for would not be considered absentees. He said the students have not made it to school at all during the fall semester.
“We’re doing things like reaching out to them by phone and email. We actually have social workers going to visit homes,” Pierce said. “We desperately want to find these children because they’ve already missed a week of school.”
As of Aug. 18, DCPS reported 40,201 students had enrolled in Duval HomeRoom and 1,426 had enrolled in Duval Virtual Instruction Academy.