ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The U.S Department of Education says enrollment in public schools during the pandemic has dropped by more than 1.5 million students. Though Colorado school districts say we are weeks from an official count, many have seen fewer students return.

Adams 14 School District has been working to get students back in the classroom since mid-summer when they began seeing a huge decline in those planning to return.

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“Everybody is still pretty focused on their family’s health,” said Mileas Munoz, a parent of an 8 year old at Alsup Elementary School in Commerce City.

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Mario Marquez, the Chief Business Officer for the district, says they have seen declining enrollment numbers year after year.

“Most recently is when the most severe dips started to occur,” he said.

Last year’s enrollment numbers hit an all-time low of just over 6,000 students, a number that would drop even more as pr]:

“Since the 26th of July our numbers were in the mid-3,500s,” Marquez said.

They immediately launched a variety of efforts to track down those who hadn’t enrolled.

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“One of them is the classic phone call, email, but we also went physically — divided up the roster into areas of the city and then went out and physically knocked on doors,” he said.

While some families lacked information about the return to school, others have been hit hard by COVID-19.

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“The loss of jobs among some of these families, we suspect that some of the students actually had to go out and find work to support their families,” he said.

The district opened a state-of-the-art school and purchased billboards advertising new space curriculum to attract new families and keep those already here from leaving.

“They’ve got to try and do their best to motivate people to come back to school,” Munoz said.

While enrollment numbers play a significant role in the amount of funding each school receives, Marquez says in Adams 14 it’s about more than money.

“Many people in Adams 14 see this is as their hometown. They have skin in the game, so they want to see this succeed.”

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Adams 14 School District officials say since their door-to-door efforts, enrollment numbers have gone up every week, and they expect to be above last year’s end-of-the-year numbers before the October count day.

Karen Morfitt