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Enrollment at the Los Angeles Unified School District has continued its downward trend for the 2020-21 academic year, with the decline in kindergarten enrollment — especially in the school system’s lowest income neighborhoods — about three times as large as in recent years.

“Overall enrollment is down at about the same level as prior years,” L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner said in remarks broadcast Monday morning. “The main drivers of this are the lack of affordable housing in the communities served by our schools and the continued decline in birth rate.”

But the district’s youngest students are absent in the greatest numbers, a possible reflection of the hardships many families are grappling with during the COVID-19 pandemic and their inability to guide young children through the rigors of distance learning.

“The most significant change in enrollment is at the kindergarten level,” Beutner said. “The biggest drops in kindergarten enrollment are generally in neighborhoods with the lowest household incomes. We suspect some of this is because families may lack the ability to provide full-time support at home for online learning, which is necessary for very young learners.”

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