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Faced with online classes, more Vermont students opting to drop out

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 6:20 PM EST
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - National studies show some students are falling behind because of the pandemic and struggles with online learning. And as Olivia Lyons reports, some of those Vermont students have just stopped going to school altogether.

“He’s not in school full-time, but he’s not sitting around playing video games either. As a parent, it was a sacrifice I was willing to make,” said Ginger Parent, whose 17-year-old son, Kaleb, is now working full-time.

Back in the spring, when Enosburg Falls High School classes went fully remote, she says Kaleb tried learning remotely. “We did try to sign up for the online learning that was assigned by the high school and it was very confusing. We had tons of problems,” Parent said.

“I think I did three days of school work and then I decided, I’m going to work instead of doing this,” Kaleb said. He says teachers did check-in when he stopped attending class. “I got some emails, yes. And then I explained to them what I was doing and they were like, ‘Oh, ok. Yup, you ain’t got a lot of time for school now.’”

He’s using skills he learned at the Cold Hollow Career Center like trucking, draglining, and maple sugaring on a family farm that will one day be his. Parent says not getting a diploma is not an option, so he’s now taking classes through Vermont Adult Learning instead of traditional school.

Parent says watching her son struggle last spring was hard. “The first six weeks of it was really tough. I was talking to him every day about it. ‘Hey, listen, you need to do this,’ or ‘Hey, I got an email from this teacher and...’ It just became pick and choose your battles,” she said.

Vermont Education Secretary Dan French says all districts are struggling with absenteeism. “We see that as part of an engagement issue as much as an attendance issue. So, we know we’re going to have some work to do to reach out to those students who have had more difficulties staying connected to their schools as a result of COVID,” he said.

is set to receive his diploma by the end of the summer -- and if he picks up the pace -- he might even walk with his former classmates from Enosburg Falls High School.

Miles admits he liked pre-pandemic traditional high school better. “I liked high school more. You had to be self-motivated some, but you didn’t have a choice to stay home and work. You had to go to school,” Kaleb said.

Typically, the Agency of Education only collects attendance data once a year, but since all schools aren’t entirely in-person, officials say it difficult to assess the numbers.

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