Trumbull enrollment down, nearly 1,000 opt for remote learning
TRUMBULL — There are 118 fewer students in town schools compared to the end of last year and there are even less who are attending classes in-person, Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Budd said.
Budd reviewed enrollment figures at the board’s Tuesday meeting, which was conducted live and streamed via Zoom.
According to the district’s enrollment numbers, there are 6,578 students enrolled in Trumbull schools. This is a decrease from the 6,686 students last year.
Much of the decline occurred at Madison Middle School, where a large eighth-grade class has matriculated to Trumbull High. As a result, Madison’s enrollment has plunged from 879 to 782, a decrease of 97 students. Hillcrest Middle School saw a much smaller decrease of 15 students from 772 to 757. With the large influx of ninth-grade students, Trumbull High’s enrollment is up 42, from 2,156 to 2,198.
The elementary schools also have somewhat lower enrollment, with the town’s pre-K through fifth grade numbers dipping slightly from 2,879 to 2,841, although that number could increase as the schools are still processing new students, Budd said. The average class size at the elementary level is around 19.6, he said.
“Compared to other districts, that positions Trumbull very competitively, as far as elementary class size,” he said.
There are even less students in the classrooms to start the year with nearly 900 opting for full-time distance learning.
According to Budd, 878 Trumbull students, 12.9 percent, opted for the system’s remote learning plan. Based on reported absences on the first day of school, Budd said that number could climb to more than 1,000, which would be about 15 percent of the district. Under state health guidelines, a student can opt to become a distance learner at any time.
“In the end, it actually ends up being rather consistent with the results of the early survey we did of the parents that suggested about 15 percent of them might keep their children home,” he said.
In the surveys, parents listed concerns over students possibly contracting COVID-19 at school and bringing it home, where it could be transmitted to a family member with a weakened immune system, he said.
The schools were committed to giving remote students the same classes and teacher assignments as their in-person peers, Budd said.
Board member Tim Gallo noted that the policy changed from previous plans, where remote learners were expected to be paired with teachers working from home in a separate cohort. Budd said the change happened because more students opted for distance learning, and the schools had successfully accommodated more teachers in the workplace who initially planned to work from home.
“So we had an increasing number of these students, and a decreasing number of teachers who were going to work from home,” he said. “In addition, we had to look at the certification areas of those teachers, and they did not match the profile of the students.”
Streaming the classroom instruction for students learning at home became the only logistical option. That also matched requests from parents, who were seeking to have their children learn remotely from the teacher they would have if they attended in person, Budd said.
“Because ultimately the goal is that we’ll all be back at some point, and that student will be back in that classroom,” he said.
Gallo, who teaches fifth grade in Wilton, said he was happy with the change.
“I’m encouraged to hear that we’ve gone in that direction,” he said. “It’s just much better for the kids, it makes them feel part of the community.”
Budd agreed, calling the remote learners an integral part of the class.
“They’re the glue between Cohort A and Cohort B, learning remotely all those days,” he said.