1,000 students missing from school this year, teachers begin to look for them


WICHITA (KSNT) — School leaders say 1,001 students are unaccounted for in Wichita Public Schools (WPS) this year. The United Teachers of Wichita (UTW) says the missing students are children who were enrolled in USD 259 when the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020 but who have not enrolled in the 2021-22 school year.

WPS says there are several reasons students may not have enrolled. For example, they may have moved or enrolled in another program. It is also possible they intend to enroll in WPS but have not yet. The district says it is common to have students enroll even after Labor Day.

Starting today, UTW members will start knocking on doors to find the missing children and convince their families to let them return to the classroom.

“We don’t want them to miss out on any more learning,” Brent Lewis, UTW president, said in a statement.

The door-knocking effort will continue through Sept. 23, with visits occurring from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

“Our students begin learning on the first day of school,” WPS Superintendent Alicia Thompson said in a statement. “Any missed days put them behind, and they have to work harder to get caught up. We appreciate the efforts by UTW to reach out to our families.”

The UTW campaign, supported by a $121,700 American Federation of Teachers Back to School for All grant, includes billboard and social media advertising.

WPS provided training for the family porch visits and the design and printing of informational materials. The district also has provided technical support for the campaign.

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