NEWS & ANALYSIS

Shocking Number of Students Leaving Public Schools Since Start of Pandemic


A recent national survey of public school enrollment numbers shows that since 2020, a shocking number of students have left the system. 

The data from the American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn Tracker found that 1,268,000 students left public schools since the start of the pandemic, per the Daily Caller

After school closures during the spring 2020 semester, enrollment fell by 2.5 percent in the fall of 2020. 

In the fall of 2021, schools that returned to in-person learning saw some recovery, while those that continued virtual learning suffered. 

In the 2021-2022 school year, school districts that kept remote learning in place saw enrollment drop by 1.2% in that year, for a net loss since 2020 of 1 in 22 students. Districts that returned to in-person in the 2021-2022 school year saw a recovery of 0.9%, for a net loss of only 1 in 93 students.

Enrollment decreases varied according to grade level. Most districts with remote learning lost 8.1 percent of kindergarten students, 6.2 percent of elementary students and 2.6 percent of middle school students. 

In high schools, remote districts saw a slight increase in enrollment – 0.2 percent.