California public schools have experienced a sharp decline in enrollment this year as the pandemic forced millions into online school, according to data made public Thursday.
The drop came as the state’s school districts dawdled in bringing children back to the classroom, making California one of the slowest in the country to reopen schools.
The California Department of Education data shows that the number of students at K-12 schools dropped by more than 160,000 this academic year, most of them at the K-6 level, to a total of 6 million.
The drop is by far the biggest decline in years and represents the clearest picture yet of the pandemic’s devastating toll on California public schools.
“The annual snapshot of fall enrollment shows a sharp one-year decline as the state and nation grappled with a deadly pandemic that disrupted all aspects of public education,” the education department said in a statement.
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