Teachers and volunteers in Broward County embarked on a unique canvassing campaign to find up to 11,000 students who either have not reported to class or are chronically absent since the pandemic started.
Volunteers including teachers, counselors, principals and school board members recently packed bags with resources and combed through neighborhoods in the Broward School District, going door-to-door to find out why students are falling off the radar.
Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, said with help from the American Federation of Teachers, their goal was simple: to get students back on campus.
“It was successful because we knocked on almost 9,000 doors, reached over 2,000 people to have conversations with,” Fusco outlined. “A few hundred have reconnected, coming back to campus”
Fusco noted coordinating the effort was not easy. Broward County Public Schools is the sixth-largest district in the nation, with 204,000 traditional public-school students and about 260,000 students including public charter schools.
Fusco emphasized going door-to-door allowed educators to hear various stories behind the absences, from ongoing concerns with COVID to other issues.
“Some mental-health situations going on, whether it was with the actual student themself or family members,” Fusco explained. “There has been financial situations. There has been deaths, you know, various reasons why they felt still comfortable staying home.”
Fusco stressed she hopes parents will get in contact with the district to let them know where the students are and work together on getting them back on campus. She added experience with the pandemic has shown children learn better when they are in front of a teacher.