More students return to classrooms, but home-school numbers still up

Dramatic changes are seen in the number of students who have returned in person.

Enrollment at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools has grown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, district data show. Total enrollment numbers are back over 8,000 after dropping to below that figure during the 2020-2021 school year.

District enrollment totalled about 8,670 in fall 2016, 8,640 in fall 2017, 8,600 in fall 2018, 8,480 in fall 2019, 7,650 in fall 2020 and 8,240 in fall 2021.

Dramatic changes are seen in the number of students who have returned to in-person, or brick-and-mortar schools, as opposed to the number of students enrolled in Connections — the district’s home-school program. That program saw a significant jump in enrollment during the 2020-2021 school year, when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the district to switch between offering classes in person and remotely.

Connections Principal Rich Bartolowits told the KPBSD Board of Education during its Feb. 1 meeting that enrollment in the home-school program had doubled during the 2020-2021 school year. That’s from 875 students during the 2019-2020 school year to 1,777 students during the 2020-2021 year, representing about 22% of all students.

Connections students accounted for about 1,250 of the district’s 8,241 students — about 15% — according to enrollment data collected on Nov. 22. In all, about 380 more students were enrolled in KPBSD than anticipated by the district for the current school year, the data show.

District enrollment data can be found on the district’s BoardDocs website at

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at