“Thirty-nine percent of our students did not have access to broadband before all this started,” he added. “So, there could be some students who we haven’t totally resolved that for.”
Graham, in Radford, said his staff have been following up with families who haven’t been attending classes with the school division, which is currently rotating in groups of students for face-to-face instruction several days a week. About 15 students moved out of the district before the start of the school year, but another 30 or 40 are currently homeschooling, he added.
Both he and White said part of the enrollment loss was linked to families who didn’t feel comfortable sending their children back to campus. But Graham also said multiple students have transferred to private schools in the area, many of which chose to fully reopen their campuses.
“Some families want their children to be 100 percent in-person, and private schools — at least the one in our area — have made that promise,” White added. “They’re saying that kids can come to school in-person all five days a week.”
But when public schools resume their normal schedules, administrators are expecting many of those students to re-enroll — exacerbating existing budget struggles if funding levels are reduced based on attendance counts during the pandemic. White said he’s already emailed school administrators and warned them to stop all discretionary spending, even on items such as paper, which isn’t as much of a necessity this year.