The Grand Forks school district has announced a total early enrollment of 7,358, 44 students fewer than last year’s opening enrollment. The district includes public schools in Grand Forks and Nathan F. Twining Elementary and Middle School at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

However, compared to this past May, enrollment has increased, from 7,272 to 7,358, or 86 students, the district said in a news release sent Thursday, Sept. 9.

The district’s demographer, RSP and Associates, based in Kansas City, Mo., had estimated an enrollment of 7,523 students, the district said.

An official enrollment count will be completed later this month and presented as part of a report to the School Board in October. The report will include total enrollment for each grade level.

While Superintendent Terry Brenner did not speculate on the reasons for the decline, he said, through a district spokesperson, COVID-19-related factors could have had an effect on enrollment.

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School district administrators will need to do more research following the September enrollment report, which will include examining enrollment at each grade level, looking at home school enrollment figures, and working with RSP and Associates in reviewing their projections and comparing against the actual numbers, Brenner said.