40-50% of students don’t show up for virtual learning at times, school leaders confirm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One of the downsides of virtual learning is that some kids are not showing up for class.

“You got some schools saying 50 percent of some students are not getting on their devices days at a time,” said Charlie Caswell, executive director of Legacy of Legends CDC in Frayser. It’s a nonprofit that works closely with kids dealing with truancy and mental health.

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After Caswell told FOX13 that statistic, we reached out to Frayser Community Schools and called the district’s chief of staff, who confirmed that on some days, only 50 percent of students show up for virtual learning. Other days, it was 40 percent.

When Caswell found out how many students were not showing up for class, he decided to partner with other community groups to combat truancy.

“[We’ve been] reaching out to the schools and having a number of the schools reach out to us ... helping to identify where some of these children are and how we can get them reconnected back to the educational process,” Caswell said.

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Frayser Community Schools’ chief of staff told FOX13 that once they noticed a decline in high school attendance, students told them they were missing out on virtual learning because they’ve been working. However, some of the students missing or skipping virtual classes are in middle school.

“We know down the road, this is going to be harder on us as a community to try to help these children, who may feel some type of depression or anxiety because they’re not at the same pace that some of their peers may be,” said Caswell.

Caswell is reaching out to as many schools as possible to collect data that will help identify exactly how many students are not showing up and why.

The next step is to connect families with services that can help put food on the table and introduce them to after-school programs.

He says the clergy app will be a game-changer.

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“The parent may not be home, but the child can go on the phone, on the app, and actually put in information that [says] ‘I’m not feeling well. I didn’t eat nothing today,’ and that sends an alert to us,” Caswell explained.

Frayser Community Schools says they recently created an attendance team to conduct home visits.

FOX13 reached out to Shelby County Schools to see if they could provide any further information about attendance. They told us to submit an open records request and we did.

A principal within SCS told FOX13′s Siobhan Riley that during virtual learning, there were times when only 60 percent of students showed up for class at her school.

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