LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The race is on to find more than 3,000 students who haven’t had any contact with the Clark County School District since distance learning started.
Connecting Kids, which is led by the COVID-19 Task Force, has made significant progress.
While there are still 3,053 students who are considered “missing,” it is down from more than 100,000 students eight weeks ago.
Connecting Kids has been using a Virtual Family Support Center made up of 150 agents to help call families and figure out what they need. But the call center is shutting down on November 13.
“The urgency has been real from the get-go,” said Punam Mathur, Executive Director of the Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation.
Mathur said she is confident Connecting Kids will reach every missing or unconnected student by its deadline next month.
The virtual Family Support Center is wrapping up because fewer people are calling as the school year goes on. Plus, it’s already helped a lot of families.
The need for internet is down to fewer than 7,500 students compared to 18,000 students eight weeks ago. Fewer than 3,300 students need devices compared to 73,000 eight weeks ago.
“We have inches left to go and the last mile is always the hardest,” said Mathur.
Connecting Kids started reaching families by handing out 300,000 postcards with every free and reduced lunch. They also had groups canvas certain neighborhoods.
“These are tough times and families are absolutely overwhelmed. So something the field agents are having is a sense of gratitude and relief because they do care and many of them are figuring it out to the best of their ability,” said Mathur.
As the group works to find the last group of kids, their approach is becoming more aggressive.
“We’re calling them with live people to say, ‘we miss you’ and if that’s not successful we’re getting in the car and we’re going to drive to those doors to find them,” said Mathur.
Sometimes it’s a simple fix like supplying a device or internet. Other times it can be more complicated like lack of food or language barriers. Field agents can help with that, too.
“Our field agents are able to do a quick tutorial at the door step, ‘Lets practice logging in I’ve got my Chromebook, you’ve got yours’” said Mathur.
Mathur said once they get in touch with students and families, they are referred to their schools. That’s when teachers and principals take over and work with the student.
Mathur said it’s a community effort and finding those 3,000 kids is urgent.
“We’re just sort of going a little bit harder, digging a little bit deeper. The community and every person that works in every school and the task force, everybody with the help of the media, we’re going to find these kids,”
The virtual family call center will still have a working hotline past November 13. Communities in Schools is working with CCSD to keep the toll-free number for CCSD families, (888) 616-2476, open until June 30, 2021.
After November 13, the District will receive and respond to families who have questions or concerns about student connectivity.
Mathur said the Task Force can help if it becomes too much for the district to handle.