Study finds link between school closures and drop in enrollment

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats across the country insisted that safety concerns meant public schools needed to be shut down for safety reasons.

They may have reason to regret that decision, however, a new report suggests many of those kids aren’t coming back. 

The connection

According to Axios, a national survey carried out by the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College found a tie between COVID measures and school enrollment.

Specifically, the survey noted a strong correlation between the degree to which children were out of class in a given district and the percentage who are not returning as students.

Those districts with the most remote classes saw a drop of 4.4% versus just 1.1% for those that maintained in-person instruction. Meanwhile, schools that used a mix of in-person and remote learning averaged 2.3%.

In some districts, the enrollment decline has been extreme, with The Washington Post reporting that New York City saw a drop of 9.5% over two years.

Meanwhile, statistics published by California’s Department of Education showed enrollment falling from 6,186,278 in 2018/2019 to 5,892,240 in 2021/2022.

“Educationally vulnerable”

Thomas Dee is a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and he attributed the decline in enrollment to parents feeling insecure about whether they can count on schools to remain open.

“This school year has had continued uncertainty for parents: ‘Will my kid be able to go to school and have stability in their learning environment?'” Dee told Axios.

“A likely explanation for the sustained or even accelerated enrollment loss is parents looking for safe harbor for their kids, looking for some continuity through this,” he added.

While many of the missing students are likely being homeschooled or attending private schools, Dee is concerned that others “may just be truant and if that’s so, these are likely to be our most educationally vulnerable.”

“From my perspective, that’s one of the big unanswered questions, … what do we know about kids who may have fallen through the cracks in the system?” he asked.

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