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Where did Washington students go? Enrollment in state public schools has fallen during the pandemic

Allison Peterson poses with two of her three children, David, 11, at left, and Hannah, five, in front of their Woodinville home Tuesday, November 23, 2021.  Nine-year-old son Jacob is at school.  All three children switched to homeschooling after school closures in 2020.

The homeschooling population in Washington State has doubled since the start of the pandemic, from 20,000 to 40,000. Some families, like the Petersons, switched because of concerns about the virus in schools and because they were unhappy with how remote schooling was going. As of this school year, Jacob has gone back to school in the Northshore School District, and Hannah will return once she gets her second shot in January. But David has decided to stay at home after he was offered the choice.

School districts in Washington saw enrollments decline by tens of thousands of students, with the home-schooled population nearly doubling in size. Many fled citing the uncertainty and logistical problems that public schools faced.

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