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Census Reports 2022 Preschool Enrollment Reaches Pre-Pandemic Levels

Preschool enrollment in the U.S. returned to pre-pandemic levels last year after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, according to a report from the Census Bureau on Tuesday.

The Census Bureau stated that 53.3% of 3- and 4-year-old children were enrolled in public and private schools in 2022, following the end of the pandemic emergency. This was an increase from 50.4% in 2021 and 40.3% in 2020.

“School enrollment for this age group in 2022 was not significantly different from 2018 and 2019,” wrote Adrienne Griffiths, a statistician at the Census Bureau, summarizing the findings.

According to population surveys conducted by the bureau, Hispanic children saw the most significant decline in enrollment during the pandemic, followed by Black and White children.

Ms. Griffiths stated that “closed schools and remote learning” led to a decrease in school enrollment among Hispanic 3- and 4-year-olds from 49.4% in 2019 to 33% in 2020 before increasing by 14.4 percentage points from 2020 to 2022. In 2021, 47.4% of Hispanic children in this age group were enrolled in school.

Meanwhile, the enrollment of Black children declined by 14.1 percentage points, from 55% in 2019 to 40.9% in 2020. It then jumped to 61.7% last year, surpassing the previous four years.

For White children aged 3 and 4, the bureau observed an 11% decrease in enrollment from 2019 to 2020, followed by a full recovery with an 11.2% increase from 2020 to 2022.

The bureau acknowledged that children from other racial groups have not experienced a similar recovery.

The enrollment of children from “other races” aged 3 and 4 in school declined from 57.9% in 2019 to 46.4% in 2020. It then slightly increased to 49.1% in 2022, as noted by Ms. Griffiths.

The Census Bureau did not explain the different recovery rates for these racial groups.

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