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Pandemic pushes down Minnesota kindergarten enrollment


October 20, 2020

Harvest Best Academy kindergarten teacher Sarah Swanson places students at a safe social distance during reading time in her learning pod, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Minneapolis. (David Joles/Star Tribune)

Kindergarten enrollment has plunged across the Twin Cities metro, as families have sought alternatives to a first year of school spent at least partly in front of a computer screen during the pandemic.

Parents frustrated by online and hybrid lessons have opted for home schooling, private schools offering in-person instruction or even delaying the start of their children's grade-school education altogether. Meanwhile, school leaders who are just beginning to share their official enrollment counts with school board members and the state Department of Education are scrambling to sort out where the missing kindergartners are, whether it's likely they'll be back next year - and how much of a financial hit districts are likely to suffer in the meantime since funding is linked to student counts.

"It's obviously a challenge that I think all districts are facing right now," said Ron Meyer, executive director of finance and operations for Osseo Area Schools, where kindergarten enrollment is down by more than 13% from district projections.


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