MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools leaders say about 3,000 students have not logged on to their online classes or picked up their digital devices since the school year began.
District leaders say it’s unclear right now why the students have not logged on, but school officials are working to contact their families.
During a Shelby County Schools board committee meeting on Monday, district officials provided an update on the virtual school year.
They described it as a “successful start” with very few technical hiccups that have plagued other districts across the country.
SCS says about 90,000 students (97%) have picked up their digital devices.
But district leaders said 5,070 SCS students haven’t picked up their district-issued laptops or tablets.
They say it appears about 2,000 of those students are instead using non-district devices, like their personal phones, to log into class.
But 2,955 other students have neither picked up their device nor have they logged on to classes.
“We are reaching out directly to those families,” Shelby County Schools Communications Director Jerica Phillips said. “When you have a student who has not shown up for class in person, those schools do reach out and engage and try to find exactly where that student is.”
Phillips says principals and staff members are trying to contact the families of those 2,955 students to learn if there are “any potential barriers” that might prevent them from logging on, like no internet access.
She says it could also mean the students simply no longer live in the district.
“A student may have gone to grandma’s house and may now be going to Millington High School or Arlington Middle School,” Phillips said. “Student transfers happen every year.”
Phillips says SCS won’t calculate or release enrollment data until after the state’s initial 20-day reporting period.
Shelby County Schools Board member Stephanie Love says she looks forward to seeing that data.
In the meantime, Love doesn’t want people assuming the worst about parents.
“This may not be negligence on the parents,” Love said. “I don’t want the message to be that because they haven’t logged on, it’s negligence. We don’t know. That’s why we have to reach out and find out and depend on our community partners to help support those families when we find out why they haven’t logged on.”
The district is offering free internet hot spot devices to SCS families who don’t have internet access.
Families still in need of a digital device and/or internet hot spot can go to the Bayer Building at 3030 Jackson Avenue this week.
The district says in the coming weeks the devices will be available at individual schools throughout the district.
For families that are not able to make it to a digital device pick-up site, the district offers free bus cards and gas cards.
The district is also asking families to update their contact information if necessary, via PowerSchools or by contacting their child’s school.
For more information, call 901-416-5300 during school hours.