TAMARAC. FLA. (WSVN) - Thousands of Broward County Public School students are being marked absent and have yet to return to their classroom, which is why educators and volunteers are now working to figure out why.
The bags have been packed and volunteers are ready to go.
More than 400 volunteers will be visiting around 6,000 households across the county this weekend.
“It’s very important for our students to be in school receiving the education that they need to set them up for their future success,” said Broward Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright.
Broward County Public Schools, the Broward Teacher’s Union and organizations from across the country have converged on Broward County this weekend in an effort to track down students who have not been on campus this year.
“Trying to reconnect with the students who haven’t physically come back to campuses yet,” said Broward Teacher’s Union President Anna Fusco.
According to educators, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the family dynamic for many households. About 6,000 students in Broward County remain unaccounted for, while approximately 5,000 others have excessive absences.
“We know, right now we, are in the middle of a pandemic, right, so there is fear that’s out there. We know that exists,” said Dr. Cartwright. “We also know that there are others who are looking for ways to re-engage with us.”
“We are here, we care, we’re ready,” said Fusco. “We’ve been back. We want to invite them back into the schools and let them know it is safe.”
After a phone campaign to reach out to those students and their families, the volunteers are going door to door in an effort to re-engage all weekend long.
“We started off with a phone campaign, so this is actually an additional step,” said Dr. Cartwright. “We will continue with our efforts in order to locate our children because we want them back in our seats at Broward County Public Schools.”
Their message is simple: it is safe to be back in class.
“We’re having them wear masks. We’ve got air filters being changed. They are working on roofs. We’re working on the air conditioning,” said Fusco. “Social distancing is a challenge because we have so many kids, but the kids are following protocol.”
State statute dictates children ages 6 to 16 must be enrolled in an educational institution and educators from across the U.S. are helping in the effort to make sure families know every day missed matters.
Volunteers from the American Federation of Teachers flew in from across the nation to help out.
“The teachers have been ready, they want you there. The admin has been ready, they want you there,” said Fusco. “Your fellow classmates want you there. All of that is just something I think people just really might need to hear.”
Broward County Public School officials said they’ve made more than 11,000 calls to try and reach out to students.
They have discovered many families have chosen alternative educational programs, but they still need to hear from the others.
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