A big report came out today suggesting that public schools had lost a million students during the COVID epidemic.

I’ll share here the articles that I think provide the best analyses of the report, as well as a link to the report itself.

Personally, and perhaps I’m being a bit Pollyannaish about it, my suspicion is that it is unlikely to be a long-term enrollment issue for public schools.

First off, the report itself can’t track how many of these students just moved to a different state or country. Secondly, it can’t determine how many of these students just didn’t attend kindergarten, especially in states like California where it is optional.

I also suspect that, after awhile, families who opted for home-schooling are going to tire of that burden and/or their children are going to want to connect with their peers at school.  And I think many who chose to send their kids to private school are not going to want to continue to fork over tuition fees.

That’s not to say, however, that there are not going to be any long-term challenges.  Obviously, those who chose not to attend kindergarten are going to require additional support in the primary grades.

And thousands dropped out of high school and are going to be feeling the effects of that decision for the rest of their lives.  During distance learning, it was clear that more than a handful of my students chose that option.  My analysis is that, for at least some of them, their primary motivation for attending school was to see their friends.  And, while they were there, teachers would be able to provide the heavy-duty support to carry them over the finish-line.  When they couldn’t see their friends, and we teachers couldn’t do that direct hand-holding, they gave up.

But enough of my anecdotal meanderings – here are what I think are the most useful articles about it:

First, of course, is the report itself.

Thousands of kids are missing from school. Where did they go? is from The Associated Press.

About 152,000 California school-age children unaccounted for, research shows is from The L.A. Times.

COVID exodus: Where did 1 million public school students go? New data sheds some light. is from Chalkbeat.

Public school enrollment dropped by 1.2M during the pandemic – an expert discusses where the students went and why it matters is from The Conversation.