The sudden shift to distance learning has been challenging for Polk County Public Schools’ students, educators and families, but nearly all students have made the transition.
Teachers and administrators have been in contact with roughly 98 percent of the more than 105,000 students enrolled in Polk County’s traditional public schools, according to the latest attendance data. Roughly 890 students have not yet been in touch with their teachers or schools since distance learning began in early April.
“More missing students are being ‘found’ and accounted for each day,” said Michelle Townley, an assistant regional superintendent of elementary schools.
Attendance figures help show how many students are participating in virtual or paper-based distance learning.
“Our high school students who are missing are down to 0.8 percent,” said Tami Dawson, regional assistant superintendent for high schools.
Schools are using social media to connect with unaccounted students and their families, Dawson said. School resource officers are also assisting with home visits, and the distribution of devices to students who need them for distance learning.
PCPS prepared 60,000 internet-accessible devices for students in need to use temporarily for distance learning. Parents should contact their child’s school directly if they would like to inquire about checking out available devices.
Dr. Tina Barrios, who oversees the district’s technology programs and resources, said many students lack a dependable internet connection. She estimates about 35 percent of Polk’s students lack internet service in their households.
To help provide students with internet access, a fleet of 50 school buses rolled out this week equipped with $85,000 worth of technology to serve as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots in areas of need. The Synced for Students project was made possible through a collaboration between PCPS and Polk Vision.
The buses operate from approximately 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays at designated sites. For more information and site locations, visit here or call PCPS’ Transportation office at (863) 534-7300.