generic school bus

Enrollment in Fairfax County’s public schools continues to dip, having now fallen more than 10,000 students since the onset of the pandemic.

County school leaders are banking that at least some of those students will be back once the pandemic blows over, assuming that it does.

Fairfax County Public Schools officials reported a total of 178,595 students in classes on Sept. 30, the date all school divisions across the commonwealth report “official” data to the state government.

That figure is down from 179,741 recorded in June when the 2020-21 school year ended, and is well down from the 189,010 students counted in class at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Enrollment had held steady – in fact, increased slightly – through that school year, despite the impact of the pandemic that began in March 2020.

But the 189,852 of June 2020 dropped to 180,151 that September, when Fairfax and other public-school districts across Northern Virginia opted for a rocky “virtual”-learning environment, not giving students the chance for in-person learning. A further 410 students disappeared from the rolls by June 2021.

Many parents with the means to do so moved their children to private or parochial schools – which were much more nimble in getting students back in class than local public-school districts. Others opted for home-schooling, and still others moved their children to areas of the country where schools were operating in person. And school leaders across the region acknowledge that, when it comes to some students who had been in classrooms pre-pandemic, they have no idea where they have gone.

FCPS officials did not respond directly to questions posed by the Sun Gazette, but instead cited comments made by Superintendent Scott Brabrand at a recent School Board’s meeting.

Brabrand, who is leaving at the end of the school year after just five years in the post, said the district’s enrollment situation might have been worse had it not been for recruitment efforts this summer. School officials in July projected that fall enrollment would be only 171,000 students, but outreach by system officials got about 7,000 students to return, Brabrand said.

Before the pandemic, about 3,000 FCPS students were schooled at home and that figure now is more than 5,000, the superintendent said. Many of those families have indicated their children will be returning to school once vaccines become available for elementary-school children, he said.

Brabrand told the School Board he was hopeful there would be “good news” soon regarding vaccinations for children ages 5 through 11, which he said would be a “game changer” for education in the county and across the country.

FCPS is Virginia’s largest school system, with 199 schools and centers and 24,839 full-time employees.

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

(13) comments

Comment deleted.
John Dutko


I had the unfortunate experience of getting awarded for killing enemy combatants in the Middle East. I wasn't a TOC b!tch.

Harry Morant

Of Course! Because People who can think for themselves, don't want their Children Indoctrinated into Communism Thought. A Failed Ideology, that MURDERED / KILLED Over One Hundred MILLION Human Beings in the Last Century. Sorry to offer FACTS! Dispute THAT, Inside Nova Marxist Trolls! Johnny? Johnny?

John Dutko

We Capitalists need people to work for minimum wage. So I agree with you!

Let's have the parents hold their children back and screw their chances for higher education and better paying job prospects. Somebody has to clean the toilets, and you don't need a degree for that.

Be poor and stupid. But don't cry about entitlements when you willfully neglect educational opportunities that were afforded to you and your family.

BTW, Capitalism killed way more than 100 million. Literally every war, crime, and poverty death can be attributed to the want and need of money and property.

Mike Hunt

Last I checked it’s Liberals holding pity parties over entitlements.

John Dutko


Yeah, because they recognize when it's gone, it's gone.

Meanwhile, Conservatives who regularly suckle at the teat of government assistance won't know what hit them when they lose their SNAP benefits.

The biggest hurdle for people to overcome poverty is access to educational opportunities. The difference between those with a degree and those without is stark: "The study’s biggest surprise may be how many of those beneficiaries are the non-college-educated whites critical to GOP fortunes. The study found that without accounting for government benefits, the poverty rate stood at nearly 25 percent for working-age white adults in families where no one holds at least a four-year college degree. That represents 14.1 million people in all.

But after accounting for the impact of federal anti-poverty and income-support programs—including Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known formerly as food stamps), Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (generally described as welfare), and the earned-income and children’s tax credits—6.2 million of those non-college-educated white adults were raised above the poverty line. That reduced their poverty rate to less than one in seven, and meant that government benefits lifted fully 44 percent of otherwise poor, non-college-educated whites above the poverty line."

Duke Nukem

Unfortunately their taxes are still going to the public school system so why do you all even care? Afraid they won't grow into little environmental terries?

John Dutko

I care and support taxes because I hate dealing with stupid, uneducated people. Public education is the institution created to address that.

Kermit Robat

@John Dutko

"...because I hate dealing with stupid, uneducated people."

Which begs the question, how do you live with yourself?

John Dutko


Cant complain.

I make 6 figures, live in a 4000 sq ft home assessed at over a mil, got a nice 401k going. And all in all, happy.

And there is still room for growth.

Listen, we can try to be witty and snarky with each other (which I find terribly amusing) and have a jolly good time, or we can go for each others throats to no end.

At the end of the day, I can say that I let off steam with y’all, and if it pisses you off, fine. If you get a laugh out of it, fine.

But I’m doing just peachy.

Mike Hunt

@ John

You would never be able to have these things in a socialist/communist system unless you were born into it and were the ruling class. I’ll wager you worked for what you have.

John Dutko

@ Mike

Damn right I did. And killed a bunch on the way.

I do believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. And the better educated people are, the more equipped they will be when joining the workforce. That way, all of the lazy people are already weeded out by the time they get to college (and hopefully graduate).

Lon G Johnson

Public schools? What a misnomer! There is no public accountability, no public input, you must mean Government Schools!

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