By Theresa Harrington, EdSource, October 16, 2020
Deep into the pandemic, some districts are finding an alarming percentage of students are missing from the virtual classroom — with the worst absentee rates occurring among homeless students, foster youth, English learners, Black students and high school seniors.
Now some districts, such as West Contra Costa and Oakland Unified in the San Francisco Bay Area, are scrambling to find ways to track down and re-engage students and provide them with the support they need to complete their coursework.
“I’m concerned about students in grades 9 to 12 and foster youth,” said Oakland Unified board member Gary Yee at a recent board meeting. He noted that only about 83% of high school students overall are showing up to classes and the lowest rates are for high school-age foster youth, at 69%. “I wonder if it’s possible for us to be assured we know who they are, why they’re absent, and whether the reasons are beyond our scope to deal with.”