“We don’t have hard numbers yet but so far it looks like 25% to 35% variance on student enrollment.” This shocking statement was made by a school planner in Texas yesterday. I’ve heard 3 other planners in three separate states make a shockingly similar claim this morning. If this is happening in districts across the country, public schools are missing millions of students this fall.

Where did they go? The answer seems to be found in another conversation I had recently. A friend of mine works for an online charter school. They told me another story: Their enrollment numbers are up! Way up. Here is the catch: They believe these gains are only temporary. Why?

Plexiglass Classroom

Photo credit: @gclaytontarvin https://twitter.com/gclaytontarvin/status/1292673248564453376/photo/1

We are officially five months into COVID-19. The memories of rapidly transitioning to online education have lied dormant during the summer. However, as the start of the school year began approaching parents said “I don’t want to do that again.” To avoid that pain, many parents are choosing to either home school their students or put them in an online school that has the “bugs” of online education worked out until it is safe for students to return to their home district in-person.

But the story we are telling ourselves is not true. The education and curriculum our student will receive online this fall is nothing like what they saw in the spring. Teachers and district staff work tirelessly to provide our students a world class education everyday. In the spring, COVID gave teachers the impossible order of “throw out your lesson plans, fourth quarter grades, and the predictable learning environment you spent all year creating for your students to be successful” and told them to take the weekend to come up with something new.

The education happening in schools for the 2020/2021 school year is well planned, well thought-out, and has learned from the mistakes the spring semester. Not only that, but school planners have been hard at work coming up with creative new ways to keep students safe and schools open. It is a shame these students and their families will not see the results of endless planning and care.

Davis Demographics wishes you luck on the upcoming school year and applaud the efforts of district across the country as they have adapted to educate and care in wholly new ways.