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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

Kindergarten enrollment drops statewide amid the pandemic

More students across Ohio are going back into the classrooms. Many though, never started school in the first place.

When the pandemic hit, Leslie Vesha's children started learning remotely, full-time.

"We have a family member who is very high-risk, and so we made the decision to keep everyone, even the older school age girls home we agreed to, we signed up to remote-only learning through Dublin," said the mom of four kids.

Vesha has one daughter getting ready to enter kindergarten, but she's not sure if she's ready.

“Having her home all the time, I mean those social-emotional learnings are really—she's desperate to have them," she said.

Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, some parents decided to hold off sending their kids to kindergarten a year.

According to Ohio Department of Education data kindergarten enrollment in public schools statewide dropped by more than 8.3% from October 2019 to October 2020.

There was an increase by less than half a percent the year before.

In a 10TV survey of school districts across central Ohio, the numbers show a drop in kindergarten enrollment from before the pandemic, to now.

Bexley:

2019: 196
2020: 157

Columbus City Schools:

2019: 4,264
2020: 4,326
2021: 3,664

Danville Schools:

2019: 49
2020: 49

Dublin:

2020: 1056
2021: 1015

Grandview Heights Schools:

2019: 87
2020: 84

Hilliard City Schools:

2020: 848
2021: 789

Olentangy:

2019: 1,493
2020: 1,362


Bexley saw 39 fewer Kindergarteners at the start of this school year with a total of 157 enrolled. Dublin saw a similar decline.

Columbus City Schools had a more noticeable change with a decline of hundreds of students.

"I think we're seeing parents actually electing for remote options," said Kelly Rivers, the Director of Early Childhood Education at Columbus City Schools. “It's not business as usual, but I also think the use of technology also provides some students access, it also helps with engagement for some students."

In Olentangy, kindergarten enrollment is underway for the fall and they are expecting an increase in enrollment. 

Todd Meyer, the Chief Operations Officer at Olentangy Schools, said the birthdates of kids who are being enrolled right now show some were kept back a year. 

He said there’s no concern about overcrowded kindergarten classrooms for the fall because they are getting ready to open a new school, which will be the district’s 16th elementary school.

“We're confident we have the space to accommodate," Meyer said.

For Leslie Vesha, now that their high-risk family member has been vaccinated, her daughter will start kindergarten on time.

“We really feel like it's time to set her up for success."