By Greg Oliver

The Journal

WALHALLA — The School District of Oconee County saw a 4 percent decrease in overall enrollment this year, which the superintendent said was anticipated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fair-Oak Elementary students wear face coverings and sit at socially distanced desks on the first day of school last month.
Special to The Journal

District officials said 10,209 students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. 

“We anticipated a drop this year as parents considered other school options due to the virus,” superintendent Michael Thorsland said, adding, “Even with the 4 percent drop, we are still within the normal range we expected.”

Thorsland said enrollment numbers have remained steady for more than 20 years, varying by just a few hundred students.

“We had the leap days this year, which means elementary and middle schools are going to get 185 days of school this year,” Thorsland told school board trustees at their monthly work session earlier this week. 

Among the three high schools, totals provided by the district showed that Walhalla High School has 1,160 students, with 965 choosing the face-to-face option and 195 using the [email protected] virtual option. Seneca High School has 1,010 students with 753 face-to-face, and West-Oak High School has a total enrollment of 816, with 646 attending in person.

“It’s still fairly balanced, with some 350 students separating our smallest high school from our largest high school,” Thorsland said.

He added that, of the more than 3,000 high school students, 2,359 are attending school in person.

“That’s 78-79 percent at the high school level,” he said.

The percentage holds steady at the middle school level as well, with Seneca Middle’s enrollment at 868 with 576 face-to-face, Walhalla Middle’s at 800 with 614 in person and West-Oak hosting 519 students face-to-face of its total 686.

Northside Elementary is the district’s largest elementary school, with 473 of its 620 students attending in person. All but 75 of Walhalla Elementary’s 596 students attend in person, and 489 of James M. Brown’s 579 students are receiving face-to-face instruction. 

Blue Ridge Elementary’s enrollment is 583 with 398 face-to-face, Fair-Oak Elementary has 556 students with 476 attending in person, Ravenel Elementary is right behind with 548 total students with 398 face-to-face and 304 of Keowee Elementary’s 365 students are attending in person.

Orchard Park Elementary has a total of 440 students with 336 face-to-face, Westminster Elementary’s enrollment reached 390 with 325 face-to-face and only 17 of Tamassee-Salem Elementary’s 190 students chose online learning.

In the Walhalla area, total student enrollment for elementary, middle and high schools after the 10th day was 3,690 with 3,066 face-to-face. The Seneca area had 3,629 students with 2,598 in person and the West-Oak attendance area marked 2,888 students with 2,302 face-to-face.

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