New Haven to use American Rescue Plan funding to re-engage students amid chronic absenteeism

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven Public Schools are trying to deal with some kids just not coming to class amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 30% of Elm City students have been labeled chronically absent and the district is working to fix that as students slowly transition back to full-time, in-person learning.

RELATED: New Haven Public Schools prepare to double in-person classroom time for some students

“The numbers are alarming – they are startling,” Keisha Redd-Hannans, the assistant superintendent of New Haven Public Schools said. “In all of our schools here in New Haven as well as across the nation, students are not performing to the same level as they were this time last year at the same grade levels.”

Redd-Hannans says chronic absenteeism is a harsh reality for the district tasked with not only establishing a new normal in schools but now getting kids back to class.

The district’s focus now is re-engaging disengaged youth thanks to a city-wide school attendance committee that is addressing students on an individual basis, going into homes to meet kids and families where they are.

Redd-Hannans: “We go to homes; we knock on doors.”

District data shows more than 30% of New Haven Public School students have missed at least 10% of instructional times since the beginning of the school year. That’s at least 6,000 students.

Now the city is looking to the approaching summer season to help students make up for lost learning time.

“We have to get kids back re-engaged and having fun,” Redd-Hannans said.

Fun with summer learning and enrichment camps for New Haven students K-12.

“And for our high school students – we are definitely looking at expanding our credit retrieval and credit recovery programs,” Redd-Hannans added.

And an added level of hope and support on the horizon at the federal level.

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona announcing in a press conference Wednesday, “I’m really excited to announce the summer learning and enrichment collaborative…We’re going to be discussing ways to use the American Rescue Plan to provide summer programming for students.”

President Joe Biden echoing the sentiment: “Help is here to help make up for lost time as lost learning.”

News 8 has learned New Haven Public Schools is set to receive nearly $38-million in federal money for elementary and secondary schools and another $93-million from President Biden’s Rescue Plan. Much of that money will go to summer enrichment programs.

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