The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slight dip in enrolment for Rocky View Schools (RVS) this year.
At an Oct. 8 Board of Trustees meeting, Colette Winter, director of Facility Planning, presented the public school division's Sept. 30 enrolment figures. According to Winter, the district has 25,289 students enrolled, which is 348 students fewer than the 2019-20 school year – a decrease of 1.4 per cent.
“Everything has kind of shrunk a little, which is very unlike RVS,” she said.
The net decrease in students, which Winter and Superintendent Greg Luterbach attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, bucks RVS’ usual trend of growing enrolment by three to four per cent each year. According to Winter, this year’s enrolment total is about 1,200 students fewer than the district was anticipating prior to the onset of the pandemic.
“Typically we increase, if you look at the three-year average, Grade 1 by eight per cent, two per cent in Grade 2, four per cent in Grade 3," she said. "Right across the board, you can see we increase.”
One grade that has experienced a notable enrolment decrease is kindergarten. According to RVS data, 1,527 kindergarteners are enrolled in RVS this year, compared to 1,918 in 2019-20 – a decrease of 20 per cent.
“Parents are choosing not to put their [child] into kindergarten yet, so we’re seeing that, but it’s not just kindergarten,” Winter said. “We’re seeing areas where normally it would increase a little, and it’s shrinking a little.”
In addition to grade-specific statistics, RVS’ enrolment data also outlined a school-by-school breakdown for each region. Airdrie's overall enrolment actually increased slightly, with 11,101 students enrolled this year compared to 11,075 in 2019-20. However, Airdrie's enrolment is 500 students fewer than RVS' projection.
"The enrolment for last year versus this year tells a story, but so does the planning projected enrolment versus the variance," Winter said.
Throughout the district’s jurisdiction, the area with the biggest drop in enrolment was the east side of Rocky View County (RVC) including schools in Chestermere, Indus and Langdon, Winter said. The public schools in this region, she said, experienced a net loss of 273 students compared to 2019-20 – a decrease of 5.4 per cent.
Rainbow Creek Elementary School in Chestermere saw the biggest decrease in eastern RVC, accounting for 104 of those students. Sarah Thompson School in Langdon and East Lake School in Chestermere experienced net reductions of 56 and 59 students, respectively.
"This does not include the [Hutterite] colonies, community learning centres or home school, but it includes online," Winter said.
On the west side of the division, Cochrane’s RancheView School saw the biggest enrolment drop among all RVS schools this year with a loss of 196 students. According to Winter, 650 students are learning at RancheView School this year, compared to 846 in 2019-20 – a decrease of 23 per cent.
Across Cochrane, Westbrook and Bearspaw, RVS’ net enrolment decreased by 95 net students – from 5,788 students to 5,693.
Enrolment figures at schools in southwest RVC remained largely the same compared to last year, meanwhile, apart from Banded Peak School in Bragg Creek, which saw a net reduction of 55 students. Schools in Elbow Valley and Springbank saw minor enrolment decreases, with net losses of students in the single digits.
As for northern RVS, enrolment figures in Crossfield remained largely the same as last year, Winter said, with only eight fewer students enrolled at Crossfield Elementary and W.G. Murdoch School.
Beiseker Community School went from 296 students enrolled last year to 264 this year, while Kathyrn School’s enrolment dropped from 162 students in 2019-20 to 128 this year.