TAMARAC, Fla. – The Broward County Public Schools system is dealing with low enrollment numbers after schools were closed for so long because of COVID-19.
Officials say there are students they cannot locate, estimating a few thousand are literally missing from their system.
Despite a county population surge in Broward County, there are more than ten thousand fewer students enrolled in public schools this year than before the pandemic.
“We were a little surprised because here in Broward, many people have already received the vaccine,” said Broward County Enrollment Chief Jill Young.
She blames COVID-19 fears, especially since their biggest loss is younger children between five and 12 years old who have largely been ineligible for the vaccine.
“I feel that a lot of parents have decided to make other arrangements because of that fear of their child not being safe due to not everybody being vaccinated,” said Young.
Since fewer students means less money, Broward has already dipped into federal Covid funds to keep from cutting programs and positions.
Andrew Sparr leads the state’s teacher’s union.
“We all expected to go back to this school year in a more normal way, and it didn’t happen,” Sparr said.
According to Sparr, the state’s top districts are struggling, losing students to alternatives, including virtual, charter and private schools.
Because of this, Broward County Public Schools teachers and staff are holding a weekend event that begins on Saturday morning.
They will walk from door to door to help find and re-engage students who haven’t enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year.
“Today we are here in order to really reach out and have that face-to-face interaction with all of our students who have not shown up at school, or for those who have not been coming to school on a regular basis,” said Broward Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright. “It’s very important for our students to be in school in order to set them up for their future success.”
The event goes through Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
The school district will file its official enrollment counts next month.