COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- South Carolina state agencies are putting their efforts into overdrive to find children they’re considering “COVID-19 truant”; students districts haven’t heard from since March.
“I bet you that there has been neglect and abuse that has gone unreported and we have sat here,” said Senator Katrina Shealy.
Senator Shealy has taken a personal call of action to help locate more than 3000 students that have been unaccounted for since school was let out in March because of COVID-19.
Sen. Shealy continued,”1 child is a lot. If it’s my chld, 1 is a lot. But 3200. If one of those children is in trouble.”
“As mandated reporters, educational professionals are mandated by state law to report abuse cases to us, so having students out of school and unaccounted for is major concern for us,” said Connelly-Anne Ragley with the SC Department of Social Services.
DSS is now working with the SC Sheriff’s Association to make contact with these families at the home, trying to meet a deadline of the start of school.
Ragley outlined some questions asked once those home visits are made.
“Why did you lose contact with the school? What are your plans for the coming school year to make sure they’re engaged and have a plan for education?”
Senator Shealy added, “School was like a safety net for them. Every day we wait is another day a child is in danger.”
Out of the 3100 plus names submitted to DSS for a cross reference, less than 5% of them had an open case with the agency.
DSS is collecting student data from school districts. The agency expects to have all data in soon.