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More than 132,000 students have disappeared from public schools in New York

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An analysis by The Associated Press, Stanford University’s Big Local News project, and education professor Thomas Dee has found that 240,000 students in 21 states have vanished from school rolls during the COVID-19 pandemic and have never returned.

This is likely just a fraction of the actual numbers, as this only covers the students who did not move out of state or sign up for private school or home schooling.


New York alone saw more than 132,000 students leave public schools in the 2020-21 or 2021-22 school years, and private schools saw a decline of about 8,000 students. The data also shows that home schooling increased dramatically, adding more than 21,000 students.

The largest drops in public school enrollment were among kindergartners, students in 10th grade, and students in special education classrooms who are not assigned to a grade. States where kindergarten is optional were more likely to have larger numbers of missing students, suggesting that the missing students also include young learners who were kept home instead of starting school.

The drop in kindergartners was a trend that had been building in New York for many years before the pandemic, and accelerated as parents postponed kindergarten for their 5-year-olds because of the risk of COVID-19.