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16% of NOLA public school students miss school everyday; School leaders plea for in-person learning

Updated: Feb. 2, 2021 at 4:34 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - School attendance was an issue before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and education leaders, but now, they say it has gotten worse.

The school system has been challenged from having to make the decisions to go virtual or to go back to in-person learning, officials say. Each time, school leaders say they knew many children would struggle to keep up.

The schools began gaining resources to deal with the attendance problem. Social Workers began tracking students who missed school. They contacted families and even performed in-home visits to encourage families to get their children back to school.

Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis says since September, they’ve visited 680 families in New Orleans. In some cases, they’ve gotten court orders to address the issue. Still, with all their efforts, school leaders say the lack of school attendance is a real problem.

“The Truancy Center, as you know, we were initially able to stand up at Covenant House and now we’re looking at ways to bring that back, but right now there are other services being provided but not like we were really able to stand up at the start of the pandemic,” says Mayor Cantrell.

“It’s going to take our village coming together and recognizing that our students and our families are hurting and they need that additional support to make sure that our students are engaged with their education,” says Dr. Lewis.

Last year, the daily attendance rate was about 90 percent. This year, that attendance rate has fallen to about 83.5 percent. Leaders worry, if the attendance doesn’t come up soon, the drop-out rate will get worse.

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