FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — According to the Cumberland County Power School data from April, 470 students dropped out of school during the 2021-22 academic year.

But a school official said the dropout number is skewed due to COVID-19.

The vetted North Carolina Department Public Instruction number of dropouts was 177 for the 2020-2021 school year.

School officials believe the current number will change once the dropout data collection for the new school year opens as students are re-engaged.

Kendrick Sims and his brother are trying to re-enroll into school after dropping out in January. Sims is five classes shy of graduating high school.

“I have Math four, Math three, American History, Civics and English four,” Sims said.

His mom, Yolanda Sims, said Kendrick and his brother were not able to return to school in January after the entire family caught COVID and they were forced to move due to financial hardship. Since then, Kendrick has been working to help out with the bills.

“My husband, you know, him being the financial head of the household, you know, that took a burden on us also and his work hours got cut for him,” Kendrick’s mother said.

Wayne Parsons is a counselor at Cumberland County Schools. He said the pandemic over the last two years have forced students to drop out for several reasons.

“The inconsistency of being able to go to school, hardships on the families, difficulties in being able to attend,” Parsons said.

On Thursday, Cumberland County Schools held a duo event called “Get Back In School Launch Party” and the “Speak On It! Teen Wellness Fair 2022”.

The event focused on students ‘dropping back in’ school and their wellness. The event promotes the importance of physical, emotional and mental wellness among teens.

This event gave parents like Sims as well as teens a second chance at a bright future.

“I have faith,” Yolanda Sims said.  

“I want o see my mom be proud of me. I want to finally finish high school and pursue my dreams,” Kendrick said.