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'We want them to come back' | Houston ISD teams up with Astros Foundation to reach missing students

The pandemic impacted enrollment and attendance in many districts.

HOUSTON — The Astros didn’t play at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, but the team’s foundation went to work with Houston ISD in a third floor multi-purpose room.

"What we’re trying to do is recover our students whose whereabouts are unknown,” said Ilka Rosado with HISD's student assistance department.

The “reach out to scholars phone bank” runs through Thursday.

Volunteers use a list of names, contact information and a script to engage with as many students, parents or guardians as possible.

"Our goal is to just make sure that we get all of our students that want to come back, back into school,” Rosado said.

The pandemic greatly impacted enrollment in HISD which, at one point this school year, was down some 15,000 students compared to what was projected.

The district is trying to connect with 938 this week.

Other area districts saw dramatic declines as well.

That's especially true in areas where families may have been more negatively affected by unemployment or other economic issues which, in turn, impacts district bottom lines.

"We’re funded based upon, not only the number of students that we have, but if those students come into school,” said Spring ISD CFO Ann Westbrooks during a previous interview.

We’re told a student reached Tuesday is just one semester away from graduating. But she works three jobs to help pay the rent. HISD will design a plan to help her finish high school as it tries to bring others “off the bench.”

"A lot of our students are encouraged that somebody cares, that we’re looking for them," Rosado said. "We want them to come back.”

We reached out to a number of districts regarding efforts to reconnect with missing students.

Here's what Aldine ISD said:

"Our number is still around 4,000 students. We have identified that most of those are our earliest learners -- PreK and K students — who never enrolled. We are working hard to work educate families on the importance of early childhood education, highlighting the safety of our schools and helping facilitate the registration process."

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