Two thousand fewer students are enrolled in Mississippi public education than last school year, according to data from the Mississippi Department of Education. 

This change is smaller than the pre-pandemic annual change, where the state was losing about 5,500 students each year. However, between the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 school years, the state lost over 23,000 students, which education officials attributed to the pandemic. Enrollment numbers have not rebounded since that significant decline. 

National data for this fall is not available yet, but previous national data showed stagnation between the fall of 2020 and 2021. The fall of 2021 did show increased enrollment in pre-K and kindergarten nationally over the prior year, but not enough to overcome the significant declines seen at the start of the pandemic. 

A similar trend can be seen in Mississippi, where kindergarten and first-grade enrollment have improved, but not to their pre-pandemic levels. 

In terms of demographics, the numbers haven’t changed much over the last four years. 47% of students are Black, 5% are Hispanic, and 43% are white. In terms of gender, it is nearly evenly split, as 49% of students are female and 51% are male. 

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Julia, a Louisiana native, covers K-12 education. She previously served as an investigative intern with Mississippi Today helping cover the welfare scandal. She is a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied journalism and public policy and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has also been published in The New York Times and the Clarion-Ledger.