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Citing COVID-19, Public Schools Report Enrollment Drops

State education officials are reporting enrollment drops among young students and in some of the state’s most vulnerable school districts.

Continuing a trend, student enrollment declined in Connecticut’s public schools this year. Ajit Gopalakrishnan, chief compliance officer for the state Department of Education, said enrollment fell three percent. That's a one-year drop that’s about on par with declines previously seen over a five year period.

"More than 50 percent of the decline we are seeing is due to lower enrollment in the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten grades. And that seems to be, disproportionately, in our 33 Alliance Districts, in terms of the decline in enrollment," he said.

Alliance districts serve more than 200,000 students in the state’s lowest-performing schools. 

"So, our general, sort of impression here, is that perhaps parents are choosing to keep these younger kids home and delay their start of public schooling due to the pandemic," said Gopalakrishnan.

Preliminary data also show attendance drops in September, especially among high-need students like special education learners and kids from families with a low income. 

Meanwhile, homeschooling numbers are up — mainly in non-alliance districts — with the state reporting about 3,000 more exits due to homeschooling versus the same time period in 2019.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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