Public school enrollment slows rebound | Education News

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Enrollment in public schools has not increased in the last school year, new federal data shows, despite waves of disruptions and shutdowns caused by new variants and quarantine policies. But it hasn’t bounced back either after coming off a cliff at the start of the coronavirus pandemic when K-12 schools lost more than a million students.

“Compared to fall 2020, total public school enrollment from pre-K through 12 remained unchanged in fall 2021, with 49.4 million students enrolled in fall 2020 and 49.5 million students in fall 2021,” says Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. , the research arm of the Department for Education, which released the new data on Tuesday.

Some 50.8 million students were enrolled in public schools in the 2019-20 school year before the pandemic. Many have fled for the consistency offered by private schools or the flexibility of homeschooling amid an ever-changing patchwork of risk-mitigation strategies that have kept millions of students in remote learning. until the end of the 2020-21 school year.

With a new school year underway, school leaders are hoping to claw back some of those seats, especially given the expected loss of funding that ensues for districts with declining enrollment. New school safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which relaxed quarantine, isolation and safety recommendations last week, are poised to provide a more cohesive school learning experience that hopefully- they, will bring families back to public schools.

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Districts typically begin reporting preliminary enrollment data in October.

While 32 states recorded public school enrollment changes of less than 1%, enrollment fell 6% in Puerto Rico and 2% in New York – the latter largely driven by schools in the New York City, where enrollment has fallen 8% since the start of the pandemic and 4% in the past year alone.

Enrollment also increased in a handful of states, including Idaho, Montana and Pennsylvania, where each reported an increase of more than 2% between fall 2020 and fall 2021.

Notably, pre-kindergarten enrollment increased by 14% and kindergarten enrollment increased by 5% – the classes that initially saw the most severe enrollment declines at the start of the pandemic – while enrollment declined by first through seventh grade.

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