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1 million+ students fled public schools during pandemic

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CHICAGO (NewsNation) — The number of students in public schools has hit a 20-year low, following the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on enrollment.

More than a million K-12 students have dropped out of public school from fall 2019 to fall 2020, according to 2020 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Specifically, about 400,000 5- and 6-year-olds were not enrolled in public school by the end of 2020.

Illinois, New York and most of New England saw the most significant drop in enrollment between 2009 and 2020. Over the last decade, states, including Michigan and New Hampshire, saw enrollment fall primarily due to declining birth rates.

Public schools lose funding as they lose students, which has forced some schools to shutter altogether.

However, over the same years, enrollment grew by 10 percent in Florida, the Carolinas and Texas.

Enrollment declined as school districts also grappled with widespread teacher and staff shortages. This resulted in some students falling behind and frustrated parents pulling their students out.

Due to the pandemic, most school districts across the country allowed parents to let their children delay enrollment or skip ahead to the next year.             

This also resulted in private and charter school enrollments rising. Homeschool students doubled to about five million. According to census data, more than 11% of U.S. households are now homeschooling.

Although there has been a drop in public school enrollment, this data comes from 2020 when we were in the throes of the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education predicts 2021 data will show public school enrollment numbers bounce back up.

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