By Anna Meiler

BOSTON (CBS) — The school year may be over, but the work is not done.

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius and a team of volunteers are hitting the streets and knocking on doors, trying to reach students who dropped out of school during the pandemic or had low attendance rates.

“We know there were a lot of our upper-grade students who really had difficulty and maybe had poor attendance, so this way we can help them get caught up,” Cassellius said. “It’s making sure they have the information on how to re-engage, get engaged in some of the summer activities that we’re doing, some of the credit recovery activities, and just make that personal touch with the families.”

The staff at Boston Public Schools have done these door knocks in the past, usually right before the start of a new school year. But this year, they’re starting early.

Manny Allen is leading the effort. His own personal experience is what drives him to go out and try to get students back into the classroom.

“I’m actually a former dropout myself. I dropped out at 17. I was out of school for two years and I got back in at 19 and graduated at 21. So I know the importance of having a caring adult talk to you, reach out to you, show you love and care,” said Allen.

Superintendent Cassellius and Allen knocking on the door of a BPS student. (WBZ-TV)

The team also makes phone calls and sends out letters, but Allen says taking the time to meet face-to-face can make all the difference.

“This has been an extraordinary year, a difficult year, so we’re doubling down on our efforts,” said Allen. “Especially in a pandemic, when we kind of shied away from that, something special about having the human touch, having someone look you in the eyes, and welcome you back, and that’s what we want to do today.”

Cassellius says they are planning to do another door knock before the start of the schools year in the fall, a time she says should look pretty normal compared to last year.

Anna Meiler