The number of students attending charter schools increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, while public schools saw overall declines in enrollment, according to a new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools that assessed enrollment trends in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the analysis, at least 39 states saw various levels of charter enrollment increases, ranging from less than 1% in Louisiana to nearly 78% in Oklahoma. Overall, charters saw a 7% increase in enrollment, amounting to nearly 240,000 students, during the 2020-21 school year, the greatest increase in five years.

At the same time, public schools saw a decline of 1.4 million students, or approximately 3.3%, compared to data from the 2019-20 school year.

According to K-12 Dive, the uptick in charter numbers was driven by increased enrollment in virtual charters in states like Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Utah. Still, the report conceded it is “premature to draw any conclusions” about why charter school enrollment grew while public school enrollment declined.

Prior to the pandemic, public K-12 enrollment had been slowly increasing almost every year since the start of the century. While researchers and other education experts worried about students and families fleeing public schools in favor of charter or private options, some theorize the loss to public schools is only temporary, especially in areas where families have opted for virtual charter schools.