Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

Where are they?

City educators are struggling to figure out what some officials fear are 150,000 or more children who have not yet set foot in school – and others who do not show up on a given day.

“Address every absent student every day,” the Ministry of Education instructed principals last week in a memo obtained by The Post.

Schools were asked to follow up daily with each missing child until they determined the reason why he or she did not show up – whether it is a day or not at all.

“Outreach to families can include phone calls, text messages, postcards and, where possible, home visits,” the memo said.

In another urgent missive, principals told staff that all schools with more than 20 percent of students absent will receive weekly visits from DOE seniors — a dreaded event. “We can not continue in this direction,” warned an administrator.

LaShawn Robinson from NYCDOE
LaShawn Robinson, DOE’s Vice Chancellor for School Climate and Wellness, was unable to provide an official number of students at urban schools.
William Miller

“No one wants a visit from the center when we are understaffed and lack most of our parasites (helpers in the classroom serving children with special needs),” said one teacher, referring to a staff crackdown since the vaccination mandate took effect on October 4. .

“I think they get a lot of pressure to make things look normal when we don’t get the tools and staff we need to be normal for the students.”

The directives came out a day after the city council’s education committee had a review meeting to get answers to COVID-19 tests in schools, quarantines and student attendance.

Brooklyn City Councilman Mark Treyger, chairman of the education committee, said he had heard from contacts that about 150,000 students “have not entered a building” since classes began Sept. 13.

Councilor Mark Treyger
Councilman Mark Treyger said contacts have told him 150,000 students “have not entered a building” since classes began.
Stephen Yang |

“Does that sound right?” Treyger asked LaShawn Robinson, DOE’s vice chancellor for school climate and wellness.

Robinson called this character “unofficial, far from accurate,” but she did not give a better number. “We focus on every student, every day.” she said. Treyger, who has urged the DOE to offer families a distance learning opportunity, also hit a wall when he asked First Vice Chancellor Donald Conyers how many students go to city schools.

“I do not have the number to give you,” Conyers, DOE’s deputy commander, replied to Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter, who did not testify.

At the same hearing, Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Teachers’ Union, said he believes as many as 180,000 city children may not have come to school at all, and called for greater efforts to reach them.

Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew accused the DOE of hiding the actual attendance figures from the public.
Kevin C. Downs for The New York Post

He blasted the DOE’s lack of transparency, accusing them: “They have an attendance every day. They know how many children did not show up. They are hiding this.”

Anxiety about COVID-19 is at least partly to blame for students skipping school, a Brooklyn teacher told The Post. ‘Parents keep children very much at home on unofficial quarantine, as when cousins ​​are exposed at other schools. They do not care about the DOE’s quarantine rules. ”

Following the hearing, the DOE again refused to disclose the raw number of students currently enrolled in its 1,600 schools.

The city reported a total of 955,490 children in Pre-K through high school in the fall of 2020. That was down from 1,002,201 the year before, a loss of 46,711 students, according to the Independent Budget Office.

However, enrollment may have fallen further during the turbulent school year 2020-21, when two-thirds of students were remotely taught and personal attendance was low.

Officials should give the facts they know, instead of “vague and premature dismissals of public interest,” said David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Degree Center education professor.

“The DOE’s refusal to provide accurate enrollment and attendance figures is not only frustrating, but increases public distrust.”

DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer promised the agency would soon host some responses.

“We will provide preliminary registration data after the rolls close at the end of the month,” he said Friday. “We’ve never done it before, but we’m committed to getting it done.”

Officials said DOE listings at the start of each school year include students who have moved or enrolled in different schools – which must be confirmed before they are discharged.

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