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160K children dropped out of CA’s public school system this academic year

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — California’s public school system is now seeing up close the damaging effects of the pandemic. 

New figures released on Thursday show a sharp drop in enrollment. 

160,000 children dropped out of California’s public school system this school year, according to data from the California Department of Education.

The youngest of school aged children, kindergarteners, showing up the least — with enrollment falling the most.  

“It is a dramatic reduction and of great concern,” California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said. “We suspect priority of Bay Area students gone is quite large and we need to make it a priority to get them back.”

All California schools shut down last March when the governor made sweeping decisions to stave off the pandemic. 

While some districts moved to hybrid in the fall, some like Oakland Unified and San Francisco Unified remained closed until recently with limited in person.  

“We don’t know what this means financially for the state,” Christopher Nellum said.

Nellum is with the Education Trust West, an equity and advocacy group.

“We are glad the state is looking at the numbers, we need to figure out what they mean, and where are the kids,” Nellum said.

For the superintendent — unpacking the data is vital.

“Many students went elsewhere, but not all, so we need a plan to find them and bring them back for the good for all California,” Thurmond said.

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