California public schools have 160,000 fewer students enrolled. What does that mean for their future?

Culver City High School is a public school in Southern California that serves grades 9-12. The state education department reported on April 22, 2021 that California public schools saw a 3% enrollment drop in the 2021-21 academic year. Photo by Amy Ta/KCRW

In-person education has resumed in many California districts. But California public schools saw their biggest enrollment decline in two decades — 160,000 fewer students in the 2020-21 school year, according to data released Thursday from the state Department of Education. The biggest drop came in kindergarten. The pandemic is the primary reason. But there are also other factors at play.