PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – A new initiative by Peoria County education leaders is urging students and families to return to the classroom this year.
Thursday, the Rebound with Attendance campaign was announced.
While educating in the midst of a pandemic, superintendents said there have been positive lessons learned, but not without major challenges.
“Struggles happened with academics, with physical health, along with mental health, and primarily attendance,” said Dr. Lisa Weaver, Pleasant Hill District #69 superintendent.
The issue of student attendance was not specific to just one district.
Through a Peoria County Regional Office of Education program called Project Target, last year leaders said they saw unprecedented absences.
“60% of the students referred to our program and receiving services missed over 45 days of school,” said Trudy Schaffner, student services director at Peoria Regional Office of Education.
At Peoria Public Schools, the administration said registration for younger children is lagging.
“We’re still in need of about 400 kindergartners, and during COVID our younger kids, our K-1 students, suffered significantly,” said Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat .
To help address attendance, Pleasant Hill is hiring a full time counselor with federal dollars.
“She, along with the administration, will be able to assist in the identification of students,” Weaver said.
Dr. Kherat said District 150 will soon begin its ‘Because We Care’ initiative.
“The principal, the staff, they go out in the neighborhoods and just get kids and families excited about coming back to school, registering for school,” Kherat said.
Educators said they’ll do their part to put students in seats and are asking families to do the sames.
“Peoria County students need the opportunity to learn. You must attend today, to achieve tomorrow,” said Beth Crider, Peoria County Regional Office of Education superintendent.
Crider said from 2019 to 2020, Peoria County lost 944 in student enrollment.