Full distanced learning raises concerns of child abuse cases

School officials concerned over child abuse cases not being reported
File footage of students in the classrooom
File footage of students in the classrooom(KOLO)
Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 8:06 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - With the Washoe County School District extending full distanced learning until January 19th for middle and high school students, school officials said some abusive situations that children may be in, might be going unnoticed.

“One of the main sources of information about possible situations comes from teachers and so when we don’t have eyes on kids because of distanced learning, that becomes that much more difficult,” Paul LaMarca, chief strategies officer for the Washoe County School District, said.

LaMarca explained the concern developed when the original shutdown happened in March and students were no longer physically in school.

“For the first couple of months we were very concerned because reports were way down generally and the severity of reports that were made was increased and so that was alarming,” LaMarca said.

He said with students in full distance learning, it is that much more challenging for school faculty to notice any signs of abuse, especially if they are not attending class at all.

“We are very concerned about our chronic absenteeism rate which is most pronounced around our distanced learners.  So it’s doubly scary when they’re on distance learning and then they’re not attending because we really have no eyes on them at all,” LaMarca said.

LaMarca said the district started working with different groups and organizations to spread awareness the best they could.

“We began at that point working with the Child  Assault Prevention Group as well as the DA’s office and Human Services Agency on what things we might be able to do to get the word out there on what to look for and how to support children,” LaMarca said.

He explained despite secondary students not being physically in school, the district is doing the best it can to still provide the resources virtually.

“We are doing everything we can. Our counselors will meet with students, our school psychologist will meet with students, our Social Emotional Team provides resources to teachers on how to connect with students when they’re at a distance,” LaMarca said.

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