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Report: Jewish day schools build on pandemic enrollment growth

Report from Prizmah shows that once families are in the door, most want to stay in the Jewish day school system.

A presentation for San Diego-area Jewish day school students. Credit: Courtesy.
A presentation for San Diego-area Jewish day school students. Credit: Courtesy.

Nearly three-fourths of new families who enrolled in Jewish day schools at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic are choosing to stay at those schools, shows a new report released today by Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.

The Enrollment Pulse Survey Report: Jewish Day School and Yeshiva Enrollment Trends December 2022, provides a detailed look at enrollment trends, including retention and recruitment, the continued impact of the pandemic on enrollment and how student mental health/support services needs are affecting enrollment trends.

“Day schools saw a significant enrollment boost during the pandemic; the big question was whether the schools could maintain this trajectory,” said a statement from Paul Bernstein, CEO of Prizmah, which has conducted the pulse survey for three years. “It’s gratifying, and really reflects on the excellence of Jewish day schools and yeshivas, as well as their vibrant communities,  that so many newer families want to join and stay a part of their day school.”

The survey was fielded from August through October 2022. Key findings include:

  • Continuing the positive trend in enrollment for school years 2020-21 and 2021-22, Jewish day school and yeshiva enrollment maintained previous increases in 2022-23 in K-12 schools.

  • Of new K-12 students who enrolled due to the pandemic in 2020-21, 72% re-enrolled for the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Total enrollment in preschool programs increased by 5% in 2022-23 from the previous year. For the second consecutive year, increases in enrollment were reported in preschool programs across denominations.
  • Schools strengthened social-emotional support for students before and during the height of the pandemic, 20% of schools still reported increased needs for social-emotional and student academic support in 2022-23.

“From strengthening Jewish identity to offering personalized learning and extra support where needed, day schools are uniquely positioned to meet families’ needs today,” added Bernstein. “We can build on success as we think about continuing to grow enrollment, address affordability and articulate the value of Jewish day schools to more families. But the survey shows the strong foundation on which to build.”

From Jan. 8-10 in Denver, more than 1,000 school leaders will gather for Prizmah’s Conference to explore many of the new ideas in innovation and growth in the Jewish day school field today.

The Prizmah annual enrollment pulse survey is part of Prizmah’s strategic and systematic approach to research, data collection and knowledge sharing. It collects learning and insights from the field of Jewish day schools and yeshivas in order to inform, inspire and empower each individual and community.

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