‘We are not going to give up on them’; GCS leaders tracking down students slipping through the cracks

Coronavirus

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The COVID-19 crisis continues to widen the learning gap in the Triad.

Guilford County school leaders say school closures have disproportionately affected students of color in the community. Some of the most vulnerable are falling behind and slipping through the cracks.

“Much in the way the faith community does when they think about saving souls, you know we’ve got to go out and get them , that’s the work we have to do in schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras.

One year into the pandemic and Superintendent Contreras says the district still hasn’t connected with 11% of students. That number represents over 7,000 kids.

Principal Marcus Gause at T. Wingate Andrews High School in High Point is one of many working to fix the problem.

“So, we got on the buses and went out into the community, myself, our social workers, our school administrators and we went knocking on doors with nice little goodie bags,” said Principal Gause.
His door-to-door effort is helping him connect with students who have been left in the dark by virtual learning.

“We encountered kids and families during that time that didn’t have lights or that didn’t have food and we would have never known that had we not gone out and knocked on the doors and seen those families,” said Principal Gause.

He’s not alone in tracking down students and ensuring they get back in school, but he believes it starts with showing up for them.

“There’s that saying that students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care, and so that for me is the first steppingstone to conquering and to addressing those racial inequities that exist,” said Principal Gause.

Community leaders in Guilford County say equality is giving everybody a pair of shoes, equity is giving everyone a pair of shoes that fit.

“We have to set eyes on them, let them know we love them, we want them back in school, we want them to have better learning outcomes and ultimately better life outcomes and we are not going to give up on them,” said Superintendent Contreras.

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