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Arkansas school districts struggle with virtual students not logging on

In the North Little Rock School District, there are roughly about 400 students— virtual and in-person— that still haven't shown up for class.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — We are about one month into this unusual school year, so we checked in with local districts to find out what's been their victories and their challenges. 

One issue across the board is the struggle to get virtual students to hit that log-in button. 

Obviously, this year is all about monitoring and adjusting for districts across the state. 

Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Charles McNulty said one thing they've had to monitor closely that they've never experienced in the past is the attendance of their students who are learning through the screen. 

"It's more than we would like," he said. 

McNulty is referring to the number of virtual students who haven't logged in for class.

"We're seeing that number go down, but we want our families to know that school's in session," he said. 

Over the last week, about 100 students in McNulty's district have been considered "no shows."

"Part of that was, sometimes it's missed counting because we are trying to get used to counting virtual kids," he said. 

This problem the district saw in the spring has trickled into the fall, but he's not alone. 

Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore said his district is experiencing a similar issue.

"We're still trying to track down some students who have not engaged yet in the virtual learning platform at this point," he said.

According to Poore, staff and administrators in LRSD still haven't engaged with about 100 to 150 of their online students. 

"We need our parents to really connect with us and we've got to have numbers so we can connect with their child and get them all set up," he said.

   

North Little Rock School District Interim Superintendent Dr. Keith McGee said his district is missing about 400 of their 8,000 kids virtual and in-person.

"Some of those kids and their parents are still concerned about COVID," he said. 

This is why the district decided to launch a "Mask On or Log On" campaign to show families the schools are safe and to remind them they have options, according to Dr. McGee.

"We're trying to see how we can serve them, so we are listening to their voice and their concerns, and then we are kind of working with them and petitioning with them to come on back," he said. 

All the administrators said they are constantly working to make personal connections with these students; whether it's through email, phone, or in-person.