After a Sharp Drop During the Pandemic, Young Black Students Return to School

The COVID-19 pandemic transformed many parents’ home and work lives, with some changes like shuttered schools and remote learning leading to a drop in enrollment of children ages 3 and 4. But new data from the U.S. Census Bureau show enrollment has started to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

The data shows that the share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in all U.S. schools, both federally funded and private, increased by 13.0 percentage points from 40.3 percent in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, to 53.3 percent in 2022 when the pandemic emergency ended. School enrollment for this group in 2022 was not statistically different than it was in 2018 and 2019.

In 2020, 40.9 of non-Hispanic Black children ages 3 and 4 were enrolled, 14.1 points lower than in 2019 and 20.8 points lower than in 2022. Non-Hispanic Black 3- and 4-year-olds experienced higher enrollment levels (61.7 percent) in 2022 than in the four previous years. Non-Hispanic Black children ages 3 and 4 were more likely to be enrolled in school in 2022 than similarly aged children in any other major racial or ethnic group.

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