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4J Enrollment Declines Due to Pandemic

2020 enrollment of 15,839 students is 474 fewer than last year • Kindergarteners account for biggest decline

Student enrollment in Eugene School District 4J has fallen this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The district’s official annual enrollment count on October 1 was 15,839 students, a 474-student decrease from last year and 679 fewer students than the district had originally projected to enroll this year.

The steep enrollment decline is expected to be temporary, driven by the worst national public health crisis in more than a century. The coronavirus pandemic prompted the closure of school buildings in mid-March, and students moved to emergency remote learning for the remainder of the 2019–20 academic year. Students began the 2020–21 school year learning from home and aren’t expected back in classrooms until January or later, if public health conditions allow.

More than half of the district’s enrollment decline is in kindergarten and first grade, with kindergarten enrollment 21.6% below projections, the highest underenrollment of any grade level. Many other school districts in Oregon have reported experiencing similar enrollment drops concentrated in kindergarten.

About two-thirds of the 474 students not enrolled in 4J schools that were last year have either enrolled in virtual charter schools or registered as being homeschooled. Some others may be delaying kindergarten enrollment until next year.

Before the pandemic, 4J enrollment had experienced some moderate growth that reversed an era of declining student populations. District enrollment grew steadily through Eugene’s expansive growth and the Baby Boom to a peak of nearly 22,000 students in 1969, before trending downward to the previous low of 16,006 students in 2014. Since then, enrollment had been on the rise, with students coming both from within the district and as out-of-district transfer students choosing to enroll in 4J. The district saw three consecutive years of enrollment growth beginning in 2015, before a dip in 2018 followed by an uptick to 16,313 students in 2019.

 

Grade 2020 Enrollment Projection Difference % Difference
K 996 1,270 -274 -21.6
1st 1,209 1,296 -87 -6.7
2nd 1,103 1,179 -76 -6.4
3rd 1,148 1,198 -50 -4.2
4th 1,150 1,194 -44 -3.7
5th 1,139 1,179 -40 -3.4
6th 1,222 1,249 -27 -2.2
7th 1,256 1,290 -34 -2.6
8th 1,277 1,296 -19 -1.5
9th 1,334 1,352 -18 -1.3
10th 1,308 1,334 -26 -1.9
11th 1,298 1,319 -21 -1.6
12th 1,399 1,362 +37 +2.7
TOTAL 15,839 16,518 -679 -4.1

 

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