Hundreds of students are missing from South Florida schools

‘Disappearing’ students a big issue during pandemic, superintendents say

'Disappearing' students an issue in South Florida during pandemic
'Disappearing' students an issue in South Florida during pandemic

MIAMI – They’re calling these “disappearing” students. They aren’t just falling behind in class or missing a day here and there, they’re missing from school altogether — not showing up online or in person.

It’s a trend being seen across the country right now during the coronavirus pandemic: Students who have not shown up for a day of online or in-person schooling and are completely unaccounted for.

“We literally have missing children,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said. “Children who never showed up for the very first day of schooling in our communities. These are often referred to as ‘no shows.’”

Carvalho says Miami-Dade began the school year missing about 1,700 students, and despite the district’s efforts, they are still missing about a thousand.

In Broward County, Superintendent Robert Runcie says they’re seeing the same kind of thing, with students who have completely disappeared from attendance rolls.

“It’s about 780 students,” Runcie said. “You know, for us, I believe that’s a lot of students. Percentage-wise it may be small. It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment to go out and reach those families.”

Employees from both counties have been working to try to find these students, and they say this is a serious concern.

“If they’re not in schools, they’re not learning,” Carvalho said. “They’re not benefiting from the protections that we as a school system can provide. They are in harm’s way.”

As for why this is happening, it seems to be a mixture of reasons. Some are technological issues, with people losing access to phones or internet. Others are families moving out of the area to find work. And some others they’re still trying to figure out.

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