The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged every aspect of how education is delivered, and for the Diocese of Orange Catholic schools, this season of change has produced a positive trend – an increase in students across nearly all school sites, slowing down a steady decline in enrollment seen system-wide in recent years.
Even prior to the pandemic, diocesan schools saw an uptick in enrollment in the second half of the 2019-2020 school year, closing the gap on previous annual losses of approximately 500 students to only an estimated 200 students, as shared by Diocese of Orange Catholic Schools Associate Superintendent of Marketing and Enrollment, Mike Schabert.
But then in March of 2020, Covid-19 forced school closures across the country. While Orange County Catholic schools quickly pivoted to a robust distance learning solution, the uncertainty of the new school year in California kept many families from committing for the fall. Enrollment numbers in August 2020 were more than 1,000 students less than the September 2019 census.
Some good news emerged in that same month when a waiver process was offered by the Orange County Health Care Agency that allowed county elementary schools to offer in-person instruction with certain safety protocols in place. Every elementary school site within the Diocese of Orange received the waiver and began the school year by welcoming students back to campus. As a result, the September 2020 census recorded an increase of nearly 450 students within a one-month span.
A steady stream of new families has enrolled since September, with the system adding as many as 20-30 students each week. Between August 13, 2020 and March 1, 2021, enrollment was up a total of 864 students, and the numbers continue to rise.
While waivers have played a large role in these increases, the Diocese of Orange has also provided significant support through financial resources, digital marketing campaigns and professional development classes that have helped the schools to navigate the quickly changing education landscape….
The above comes from a March 15 story in OC Catholic.
“Waivers have played a large role in these increases.” They have been the determinative, perhaps sole factor in the increases. Parents who could afford to decided to enroll in open private schools because public schools were remote-only. When the public schools open, I bet the downward enrollment trend will resume. Note that this happened in Orange County, whose residents have more disposable income than elsewhere.
“While Orange County Catholic schools quickly pivoted to a robust distance learning solution…”
That bureaucratese shows that bureaucrats are in charge. I laugh at how swiftly education administrators adopted the word “pivot” over the past year. And “robust distance learning solution”? Why the affected pompousness?