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Report shows enrollment in DC schools is down and projected to continue to decline

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The pandemic hasn't just affected what students are learning, it's also had an impact on where they're getting their education.

"In the past two years since the beginning of the pandemic, the District public school enrollment did not grow at all," said Yesim Sayin, Executive Director of the D.C. Policy Center.

Sayin says enrollment at D.C. schools is down and she doesn't expect that to change any time soon.

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"Our estimates show a difficult next five years," she told 7News.

A report by the DC Policy Center shows enrollment growth stalled in D.C. schools during the pandemic and if the trend continues, an enrollment that currently stands at 87,000 could decline to 81,000 by 2026.

According to the report, a decline in births and residents of childbearing age leaving D.C. are contributing to the enrollment decline.

"Maybe parents decided that they were going to homeschool their children. Some parents moved away," she said.

In a statement, D.C. Public Schools tells 7News, "DCPS saw a slight decline in enrollment this school year as we fully returned to in-person learning," the statement continues, "..enrollment for the upcoming school year is already ahead of where we were this time last year.”

"If the enrollment declines the way that we're projecting that they will decline now, schools will have to adjust to declining budgets which is a very difficult thing," Sayin explained.

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7News checked and found in Montgomery County Public Schools there were more than 162,000 students enrolled in 2019 but the most recent numbers show enrollment has dropped to 160,500---a decline of more than 2,000 students.

In Fairfax County Public Schools, there was a steeper drop. Nearly 189,000 students in 2019 went down to 178,600 in the most recent school year. That represents an enrollment decline of more than 10,000 students.

In Loudoun County Public Schools, nearly 84,000 students were enrolled in 2019, but that number dropped to 81,500 in the most recent school year.

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In Prince George's County Public Schools, an enrollment of more than 132,000 in 2019 now stands at 131,600.

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