DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s public schools are still missing the bulk of the students lost during the COVID pandemic, but the enrollment losses can’t be explained by an exodus for homeschool or private school.
The Associated Press released a data analysis of 18 states’ homeschooling data that shows the nation is in the middle of a homeschooling surge. Colorado numbers are different.
While still elevated from pre-pandemic levels, Colorado’s homeschool enrollment in the 2021-22 school year has dropped nearly 50% from the previous academic year. There were 15,773 homeschooled students in 2020-21, but this year there are only 10,502. Still, this number is up 1,300 from the pre-pandemic measurement in the fall of 2019.
The increased numbers of homeschooled students do not explain the enrollment drop in public schools.
Colorado’s statewide public school enrollment is nearly 27,000 students short of its 2019 high of over 913,000. The state lost 30,000 from October 2019 to October 2020.
Private school enrollment does not account for public school enrollment loss, either.
Tracking those students is tricky. Public schools and homeschools are obligated to keep track of enrollment numbers. Private schools that do not receive public funding are not.
The state has 2,000 fewer non-public students in the current school year than it did before the pandemic.
It is possible private schools have more students than public data said. Colorado Department of Education representatives say those numbers are submitted voluntarily and probably aren’t a reliable gauge for statewide private enrollment.