Experts are recommending that districts use the summer months and early fall to reengage students who pulled away from school during the pandemic to mitigate the risk of increased drop-out rates. This task has roles for district leaders, site administrators and teachers.

During the pandemic, marginalized students were at the highest risk of disengaging from school. Speakers at this year’s SXSW EDU conference said the trick is to build deeper relationships with at-risk students through in-person interactions.

An EdWeek survey found that about 50% of students feel less motivated in the 2020-21 school year compared to the previous year.

Teachers’ views of students’ motivation levels were significantly more dire, with 87% reporting students are less motivated now than pre-pandemic. Student morale also suffered, with 49% of students reporting lower levels than before the school shutdowns. Among teachers, 82% felt student morale had suffered.

This is important because more engaged students are more willing to participate in class and more likely to persist through learning challenges. They also typically perform higher academically than their less-engaged peers.

So how can districts boost engagement and get kids back to school? Here are some tips:

  • Host “Mobile Mondays” (which can be adapted for any specific day) and assemble a team that reaches out to disengaged students on that day to offer support and show interest in their well-being.
  • Registration time is also a good chance to reach out, allowing districts to invite students’ families to participate in the registration process and welcome them back to school before the new year begins.
  • Offer a transition track for students who can’t immediately step back into daily, in-person classes. For example, offering a half-day program may make it easier for disengaged students to return to the classroom after so many months away.