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PPS and Peoria Federation of Teachers work to improve school attendance

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PEORIA (HOI) - During the course of the pandemic, thousands of Peoria Public School students missed several school days. Now, Peoria Federation of Teachers is working with PPS to reach those students, and make sure they're ready to return in the fall.

The Peoria Federation of Teachers hit the streets during July, reaching out to students who missed more than 40 days of school. The efforts from PFT are a part of the PPS 'Because We Care' program, which focuses on attendance.

"We wanted to make sure that students and parents were energized about school this year, and had all of the information about registration hubs, the first day of school, backpack give away, and to answer any questions they might have," Lincoln K-8 teacher Hedy Elliott said.

Due to the pandemic, Elliott says there was barely any communication between her and parents.

"I thought this was a great time to make some phone calls and knock on doors and really get to have that face to face interaction with the parents and the kids again," Elliott said.

Those canvasing have already reached out to nearly 2,000 students.

"For education sake, for society, for the city, the kids need to be back in school learning and hopefully we can make up some of the things that we lost," Family/School Liaison Stanton Hangen said.

Their goal is to answer questions and help alleviate stress of returning to school full time, face-to-face.

"There is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety with the parents because they really don't know if there is a risk involved or what the safety factors are," Hangen said.

However, Hangen says there are provisions if things take a turn, but for now, they're ready for students to return safely.

The PFT has the rest of the week to canvas. They're hoping to reach out to another 800 students by Friday.

Gabi Guerrero

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