S.C. schools attempt to contact thousands of unaccounted for children

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Many parents in SC are eager to get their children back into a learning environment whether it be virtual classes, in-person or a combination of both.

Teachers and education officials are concerned about the amount of children who went completely off the grid after schools closed in March.

According to S.C. superintendent Molly Spearman at one point during the remainder of the year, around 16,000 students in the state were never seen or heard from after schools made the virtual shift back in March.  

Since then officials were able to locate thousands of those students leaving approximately 4,000 children who are still gone without a trace.

“We moved rather quickly to track them down. No great length of time passed before we identified who was not talking to their teachers,” Tim Waller, director of media relations for Greenville County Schools, said.

In the Greenville County School System alone, only 54 students out of about 77,000 were missing. Some of which are said to have relocated possibly to another city or state.

Tim said the district will go to great lengths to find these children by getting social workers involved, calling, writing letters, making house visits and in very extreme situations asking law enforcement to step in to assist.

“Now we’re sending staff members and social workers to the front door of the address that we have on file,” Waller said.

Many fear that access to WiFi and technology coupled with students not having a sound home environment to complete their class work, may play a role in pandemic related truancy.

Greenville County Schools is providing WiFi hotspots to the students who need it and giving all students laptops to easily complete work and check-in for attendance.

“Every single student in Greenville County Schools is getting a Chromebook, including our 4K. We still accept homework over the phone, we accept mailed in homework. Our teachers are absolutely amazing, it’s not just about the ability to perform on a computer,” Waller said.

The common denominator throughout the pandemic has been uncertainty but Waller tells us that he is confident that an increase in unresponsive children shouldn’t be an issue this upcoming school year.

For more information on back to school plans and attendance policies, click here.

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