LPS enrollment down, likely due to increase in homeschooling

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – COVID-19 has an impact on Lincoln Public Schools, and that includes enrollment during the pandemic. On Friday, LPS released the official enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year as submitted to the Nebraska Department of Education.

The 41,562 in-person and remote learning students enrolled as of Oct. 1, 2020, is 735 fewer students than in the previous school year. That is still approximately 1,600 students more than five years ago, and an increase of 5,700 students from 10 years ago.

“We anticipated there would be an enrollment decline due to the pandemic,” said Matt Larson, associate superintendent for Instruction. “With so many unknowns, we understand families’ decisions to hold their kindergarten students one more year, and for some families making the difficult decision to homeschool their child. We anticipate that next year’s kindergarten class will be larger than normal and we will gain homeschool students back once families feel comfortable with community conditions.”

This year’s kindergarten class is nearly 200 students under the projected number, and just as homeschool applications have increased across the state of Nebraska, the same is true in Lincoln. The largest number of homeschool applications came from the elementary level.

According to the Nebraska Department of Education, there’s been an increase of 4,856 students choosing to be homeschooled. Last year, the state had 8,570 students in homeschooling. This year, that number is at 13,426. The highest increase in recent years before this was 272.

LPS officials said they’ve had a 60% increase in filings for homeschooling. Officials said it is a higher percentage, but still below the state average. Associate Superintendent for Instruction Matt Larson said, “We expected a decrease in our enrollment all across the country due to the pandemic. Schools are seeing a decrease in enrollment as families select other options including homeschooling for their children.”

Dept. of Education officials said this increase is likely due to the pandemic. Once the pandemic slowly goes down, officials expect the numbers to go back to normal.

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