TRI-COUNTY, S.C. — As school district employees work around the clock to come up with back to school plans, there is another looming issue to address.
Since the pandemic forced learning to turn virtual, there are students teachers and faculty have not heard from or had any contact with since March.
In the video above, state and local leaders talk about what can be done to fix this.
Across South Carolina, York County Rep. Raye Felder says reports on possible child negligence and abuse are at an all time low, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
“Part of that is our school house doors have been closed,” Felder said. “And often times, that is where the abuse is first discovered.”
Even more alarming is another statistic. As of July 7th, the South Carolina Department of Education says there are more than 10,000 students that teachers have had zero contact with since school buildings closed in March.
“It became alarming the number of children that were not picking up their packets, that were not picking up their meals, that the teacher was not able to connect with, cell phones disconnected, no home phones,” Felder said.
Here are some numbers from the Tri-County. Keep in mind these numbers can change often, either up or down.
The report says the Rock Hill School District hasn’t heard from more than 500 students. In Lancaster County, that number is 291 students and in Chester County, 82 students.
The Chester County School District worked out a possible solution to this problem. They’ve partnered with sheriff’s office to do welfare checks on these students.
“Those resource officers, they know their students, they see their students on a daily basis. So they were extremely excited to check on their students.”
Rep. Raye Felder says school districts are overwhelmed and are doing their best to make challenging decisions.
Perhaps the answer lies in other agencies stepping up to help connect with these children.
“Because I do think a lot of times it’s going to be a matter of actually knocking on that door,” Felder said.
There is some good news. In late May, South Carolina teachers had not heard from 40,000 students. Now that number, again, dropped to 10,000 students.
Felder says districts are planning Academic Recovery Camps to help students who had no instruction the last 2.5 months of school.