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Preliminary figures suggest students may be returning to AZ K-12 public schools

Arizona’s K-12 public schools experienced a dip in student enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic, but preliminary student count numbers released Wednesday show signs of recovery. 

Last school year, enrollment at K-12 public schools fell by about 39,000 students compared to the previous year. Many of those lost students were preschool or kindergarten age. But preliminary figures suggest students may be returning to public schools. In September, schools saw an overall student count increase of 3.5% compared to September 2020, according to the Arizona Department of Education. Kindergarten student counts showed a big gain, a nearly 16% increase from the previous year. 

While these are just preliminary numbers, the trends are encouraging, and we are hopeful for a much better official enrollment count this school year compared with last year," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman in a statement.

She credits the rebound, in part, to the department's Ready for School AZ Campaign that helped families enroll their students into public schools.  

“This effort was about more than just getting students back in school — it’s about helping them heal and thrive,” said Hoffman. “Our work is not done, but we are making progress.” 

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.