School superintendent says district enrollment affected by pandemic

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer gave his annual enrollment report to the School Committee at its Nov. 4 meeting. The district has experienced a drop in enrollment of 258 students which is “undoubtedly related to the pandemic,” according to a report he shared with the committee before the meeting. 

The report is required by the state by Oct. 1 to be submitted to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Information reported is used in formulating Chapter 70 funding.

He shared key enrollment data points including that total school enrollment from preschool to grade 12 is 5,993. Broken down by grade level: preschool to grade 4 is 2,166, grades 5 through 8 is 1,952 and grades 9 through 12 is 1,875.

“The biggest drop was in our preschool which is to be expected because we made a strategic decision not to provide any remote preschool educational services to students who did not qualify for special education,” he explained.

Relevant to kindergarten, there was a drop of 35 students and Sawyer said that they “don’t have great data on exactly why this is.” The “anecdotal data” is that there are families who looking at the situation with remote learning and or hybrid learning and may have decided to hold their children back a year and wait the pandemic out.

“Overall, we have seen some increases in homeschooling as well,” Sawyer noted. 

This school year, the number has doubled to 40 students as opposed to 20 homeschooled students in the 2019-2020 school year. 

Even though enrollment is down, all grade levels from kindergarten through grade 12 are overenrolled. This has put pressure on space for proper distancing in classrooms for full in-person and hybrid learning, as well as providing sufficient staffing, Sawyer reported.