Pandemic impacts Ohio school enrollment

Public school district enrollment in Ohio decreased by 53,000 students during the pandemic last school year, and most Toledo-area public schools likewise saw their fall enrollments numbers drop by the hundreds.

But if parents were pulling their children out of public schools, they weren’t necessarily putting them in charter schools, as most in the area didn’t fare much better than their public counterparts, with many seeing enrollment decreases ranging from a handful to a loss of 51 students in the 2020-21 school year. The few that did see enrollment increases typically saw headcounts rise by six-to-15 students.

According to an Ohio Department of Education report, the 53,000 student drop in public school enrollment to a 3 percent decline. But officials point out that almost half of the decrease — about 25,000 students — was in preschool and kindergarten students whose parents likely delayed enrollment in school until the pandemic ended.

Homeschool enrollment also increased by 55 percent, or by about 18,000 students, the report shows.

But parents were also increasingly enrolling their children in online schools, with e-school enrollment increasing by about 13,000 students, or more than 50 percent  between fall 2019 and fall 2020, the state’s data shows. The Ohio Virtual Academy based in Maumee went from 11,919 students in fall of 2019 — a decrease of 783 students from the year prior — to 17,886  students in 2020, an increase of almost 6,000 students.

But time will tell whether that holds true. Ohio Department of Education spokesman Mandy Minick said district officials have until Dec. 20 to submit enrollment numbers for the current school year, and the data is typically then made publicly available early the following year.

Read the full story in the Toledo Blade