Thousands delay, cancel kindergarten enrollment statewide, OSPI reports
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Data from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) shows that kindergarten enrollment has plummeted statewide, as parents look to alternative learning or delay their children’s first day of school.
OSPI gathers data from Washington’s school districts every month, designed to inform funding for staff, materials and technology year to year.
Schools receive funding based on how many students are in attendance; if someone disenrolls, the school will lose a portion of their state funding unless another student replaces them.
Across the board, enrollment in school grades K-12 has dropped by 2.82 percent —indicating around 31,000 students across Washington are not coming back to class this year.
One-third of that number, OSPI reports, is attributed to kindergarten-age kids not enrolling or delaying the start of kindergarten by a year.
Kindergarten enrollment has dropped by 14 percent compared to 2019.
“As our nation continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, states across the country are seeing changes in K–12 enrollment as families make decisions about the safest and most effective learning environments for their children,” said Superintendent Chris Reykdal. “If these trends continue, many of our districts will need to make adjustments in the short-term even as they plan for booming kindergarten and first grade classes next year.”
As expected, alternative learning—courses where learning is done outside of a traditional classroom schedule—has seen enrollment jump by 50 percent in the last year, with roughly 44,000 students taking part.
“With the uncertainty of what this school year would bring, it is not a surprise to see these shifts in enrollment,” Reykdal said. “However, most of our districts are working around the clock to simultaneously provide instruction at a distance while preparing for a return to in-person learning. As families make important decisions about their children’s’ learning, I strongly encourage them to stay connected to their local school district to ensure a smooth transition as safe in-person learning options return.”
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