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Chester Co. deputies check on dozens of students not heard from since schools closed

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — School resource officer Wanda Alexander has a list on a clipboard in her SUV, showing names students in Chester County whom teachers haven’t heard from in weeks or even months.

On Thursday, Alexander visited homes to check on the welfare of students.

In Chester County, 6% of students are considered to be non-responsive during this remote learning period since schools closed in mid-March. That’s about 72 students.

“If we haven’t heard from you in several days, we’re concerned. If we haven’t heard from you in months, we’re really concerned,” said Dr. Angela Bain, Chester County School District superintendent.

Deputies have been making these home checks all week after Sheriff Max Dorsey read a news article about students at home during this pandemic not keeping in touch with their schools.

“The story got me wondering, ‘How does that look in Chester County?’” Dorsey said.

The sheriff contacted Bain, asking if they could help track students down and make sure there are no problems.

Bain said they've accounted for all elementary students, but some older students haven't been heard from since March 13, the last day they were on campus.

“We’ve been trying to do everything that we can -- contacting parents, sending registered letters, sending emails, making calls,” she said.

Alexander talked to a parent, who declined an on-camera interview, but said she had been emailing her child’s teachers but was overdue turning in her end-of-the-year packet. She felt like that prompted the visit from the school resource officer.

Dorsey said this isn’t just about missing classwork but checking for possible signs of neglect. A teacher in a classroom would spot those signs because they’re often the first to notice problems a child may have at home.

“They can pick up on clues -- how they’re dressed, if they’re sleepy, if they’re hungry -- so that’s an extra layer of protection that these students don’t have right now,” Dorsey said.

So far, deputies haven't noticed any problems when they've spoken to students and their parents.

Channel 9 reached out to other school districts in the area for their numbers. Only Rock Hill had them to share.

In Rock Hill, 803 students are considered non-responsive during remote learning, which is 4.6%. The district is still making attempts to reach those students.

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