Utah's kindergarten enrollment down during the pandemic; what will it look like in the fall?

North Star Elementary School kindergarten student Xander raises his hand in class in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Kindergarten enrollment was down during the 2020-2021 school year.

North Star Elementary School kindergarten student Xander raises his hand in class in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Kindergarten enrollment was down during the 2020-2021 school year. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — Kindergarten enrollment was down during the 2020-2021 school year. While actual numbers for the school year starting in August 2021 won't be known until October, the State Board of Education says it doesn't expect a huge change for the upcoming school year.

"At this point, we're not anticipating mass migration," USBE Statistics Coordinator Aaron Brough told KSL NewsRadio. "We're just going to run things as normal right now."

On the heels of the pandemic this past school year ending in 2021, the board collected early information on enrollment trends to make sure state legislators, businesses, and teachers were financially prepared if there was going to be a huge shift to online school, for example.

"Yes, we saw movements, but we didn't see extreme movements," Brough stated.

For the school year beginning in the fall of 2020, data from the USBE shows kindergarten enrollment in Utah schools fell by 9.7%.

"(The) primary assumption is because of the pandemic, instead of sending kids there to wear masks, they chose to keep more at home," Brough said.

Utah's lower birth rate also played a role in having fewer kindergartners, according to Brough.

"We know that there was a slight decrease that was coming up," Brough said. "We had a large bubble increase for years and years and years, and that has slowed just a little bit."

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Lindsay Aerts

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