The Distsirct 65 administration building. (Google Maps)

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is blaming the coronavirus pandemic for a lower-than-expected enrollment for the current school year.

In a memo to the Board of Education, Sarita Smith, manager of student assignments, says this year’s enrollment of 7,112 students is about 3% below projections — or 227 fewer students than expected.

“We can’t deny the impact COVID had [on] Kindergarten enrollment and early withdrawals from the district,” Smith explains.

Kindergarten saw the largest decrease, 135 students below projections, a 17% drop from what was anticipated.

“Kindergarten registrations are noticeably behind,” Smith says, “due to parents keeping their students in pre-K another year, families deciding to home school, or enrolling their kindergarten students in a smaller, private-school setting.”

The data is as of Sept. 14. Smith says she believes there will be an upward spike in families registering for District 65 “when we can return to in-person learning.”

District 65 is currently on entirely remote education. The return to classroom learning has been postponed from Sept. 29 until Nov. 16 due to coronavirus conditions in the area. Remote learning could be extended again if the positivity rate in Cook County does not decrease by mid-November.

The enrollment report is on the agenda for Monday night’s District 65 school board meeting.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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