Thomas Dee Describes how Enrollments Fell when School Districts Opted for Remote Classes
In late August 2020, faced with the uncertainty of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, many — but not all — public school districts in the United States chose online rather than in-person or hybrid classes. Faced with the prospect of virtual instruction, parents responded in various ways. Most tried to make online learning work, but some moved to school districts with in-person classes. Some shifted to homeschooling, and some delayed enrollment of their children. NBER Research Associate Thomas Dee of Stanford University and Stanford colleagues Elizabeth Huffaker, Cheryl Phillips, and Eric Sagara studied the effect of virtual instruction on K-12 student enrollments in US public schools, and they report their findings in a new working paper 29156. Enrollment at districts with only online instruction dropped relative to districts with in-person classes, with the largest effects in kindergarten and first grade. Dee summarizes the team's findings in the video above. An archive of NBER research spotlights on pandemic-related topics may be found here.