The net result of all this lingering uncertainty is that the American way of education is almost certainly going to cough up a third consecutive school year disfigured by COVID-19, even as private schools manage to stay open and the population of homeschoolers has doubled.
"K-12 enrollment in our nation's public schools has been slowly increasing almost every year since the start of this century," National Center for Education Statistics Associate Commissioner for Administrative Data Ross Santy said in a statement last week, while announcing findings that the just-completed school year saw public school decline of 3 percent. "Before this year, in the few recent years where we have seen enrollment decreases, they have been small changes representing less than 1 percent of total enrollment."
Will kids, especially of kindergarten age, return to the public system after "redshirting" the annus horribilis of 2020–21? Early signs point to no.
"Kindergarten enrollment applications in New York City are down 12 percent compared to the previous year," Kerry McDonald noted last month in an article for the Foundation for Economic Education. "In San Francisco…kindergarten registrations are currently down 10 percent"; "in Marietta, Georgia, kindergarten registrations for this fall are down 40 percent from last year," and "in Denver, Colorado, fall kindergarten registrations have declined 15 percent."