As schools in the Tri-State re-open for in-person instruction following the holiday break, some schools are losing touch with students.
From frustrations with remote learning to not having access to the right technology, some parents are fed up with school systems during the pandemic and have decided to remove their children from the districts altogether.
Social workers in 11 Indiana counties including Warrick, Posey, Gibson, Pike, Daviess, and Dubois counties, are also dealing with students missing classwork or assignments and not checking in after periods of quarantine following COVID-19 exposures and infections.
Some school districts are even seeing parents delay the start of kindergarten for their kids.
At West Elementary School in Mt. Vernon, Youth First social workers say some parents are having their kindergarteners start in a virtual format as opposed to delaying the start of class entirely, while others are starting off in homeschooling.
In Owensboro, education officials haven't seen a mass exodus of students leaving the district - but have received warnings from parents considering pulling their kids out of class.
With many kids no longer participating in class or whose parents aren't responding, social workers are putting in their best efforts to track them down and maintain communication.
"If they pull out for homeschooling and we haven't been contacted, we make phone call after phone call," explained Jordan Beach, a social worker with Youth First. "Sometimes we'll do a home visit if we need to, because we need to know where those students are."
"We have to be able to withdraw them," she continued. "We don't ever just say 'ope they're gone, we haven't seen them.' We put in the work to figure out where they are, what they're doing - make sure they're safe and that their well-being is okay."
Over 64 Youth First social workers in 91 Indiana schools are currently working hard to track down missing students.
Families in need of emotional or education support are encouraged to contact a Youth First social worker.