Enrichment Education

New York City public school enrollment continues to drop amid COVID-19 pandemic

Story at a glance

  • The New York City public school system is struggling to retain some students more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • At least 75 percent of New York City public schools have reported a decline in enrollment, according to state data.
  • An analysis from the education-focused outlet Chalkbeat shows that the total enrollment in the country’s largest public school system has slumped to about 821,000 students.

Most New York City public schools have experienced a drop in enrollment numbers over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to state data.  

At least 75 percent of the city’s public schools reported fewer students in attendance this school year, according to analysis from the education-centered outlet Chalkbeat.  

Overall, enrollment in the New York City public school system declined by 5.6 percent to about 821,000 students in kindergarten through the 12th grade, according to the analysis. According to city officials, the state data used in the Chalkbeat analysis does not include enrollment numbers from the New York City’s nontraditional K-12 programs. 

According to New York City Department of Education preliminary enrollment data released last October, there are 938,000 preschool and K-12th graders enrolled in the city public school system. 

Since the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, the number of students enrolled in public school in the Big Apple has dropped by 9 percent, the analysis added. 


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But the drop in enrollment has not been evenly distributed among different demographics. According to the analysis, enrollment among the city’s Black and white students has declined by 7.5 percent for both populations, the largest drop out of all racial groups.  

Asian American enrollment this school year has dropped by 5 percent, while enrollment among Latino students declined by 4.5 percent, the outlet added.  

In addition, enrollment among students with disabilities declined by 8 percent, which could potentially be the result of fewer special education referrals made during the pandemic, the outlet said.  


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