SC has tracked down almost all 16,000 students who were unaccounted for during pandemic

SC has tracked down almost all 16,000 students who were unaccounted for during pandemic
Fewer than 1,000 students remain accounted for as of August 19. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) has helped locate thousands of students who were unaccounted for since the start of the pandemic, according to a letter sent to state lawmakers.

In June, South Carolina principals reported there were more than 16,000 students they had minimal or no-contact with after schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, education officials and others have been working to get in touch with these children.

Senators on the Re-Open SC Senate Select Committee asked DSS to get involved.

According to DSS, the agency received the names of 3,234 children who were still accounted for in July.

As of August 19, DSS said it has heard from 2,295 of the remaining 3,234 students they were asked to help get in touch with over the last three weeks.

DSS officials said they performed a data match through their child welfare system and found 152 children with open cases with the agency. They also worked with the state Department of Mental Health to perform a data match regarding any children on the list who may be receiving therapeutic services.

DSS says it sent individualized lists to its County Directors for staff to be assigned and visits to be conducted in coordination with local law enforcement. DSS County Directors also conducted outreach to local superintendents to determine if there were any updates on contacted students since lists were sent to SCDE.

Of the 3,234 unaccounted for students, over the last 21 days, including updates from local school officials, DSS staff and local law enforcement have been able to determine contact has been made with 2,295 children, officials said.

They said 159 students moved away.

There are 409 students they were unable to contact despite multiple attempts and there are 371 students to whom they have yet to reach out.

DSS said county-based teams will continue to attempt contact with the remaining 371 children. They plan to share an additional report on un-contacted students and how many were located by the first week of September.

This is a developing story.

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