School districts are swamped with enrollment right now. COVID-19 has caused additional challenges in getting students to sign up for classes.
In-person or online, no matter the format, just enrolling students for school is challenging because of the pandemic.
“Many may not be thinking about school right now. They may be thinking about, ‘How do I get my next meal? How do I find some shelter going forward?'” said Yaw Obeng, Hickman Mills’ superintendent.
At Hickman Mills, of the expected 5,600 students, so far only 69% have registered. Classes begin online Aug. 24.
“They are not registered in schools, so we don’t have any access to communicate with them and support them through this, as well,” Obeng said.
“Schools really rely on student enrollment for their funding,” said Tricia Johnson, of the United Way of Greater Kansas City.
Financial stress, housing, transient families and social distancing from COVID-19 drive the low numbers. Others families could be weighing their options or have switched to home schooling.
“A lot of our students will already be behind and, if they don’t enroll, this is just going to exacerbate the academic disparities,” Johnson said.
In addition to the normal “summer slide” of forgetting past lessons, the United Way said this year there’s COVID slide. Many students missed 30% of school last year.
“Even if it takes us until September, October, we’ll make an effort to connect with all the students that we’re aware of and try to get them to school,” Obeng said.
Students can register online or in person. Every student at Hickman Mills will get a device for online learning. The school district provides free meals. Students who need Internet hot spots can get those from the district as well.