MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As families struggle with remote and in-person learning, educators are noticing a large group of students missing from the roster: kindergarteners.
The Hubachers were excited their three daughters would finally be in the same school with their youngest Riley making the cutoff for kindergarten. But they chose to hold her back in part because of the COVID pandemic.
“Kindergarten is gonna be sitting in a plexiglass cube with a mask on. I was like, it just hit me, like, oh my gosh, this is not in the best interest of Riley,” says Rebecca Hubacher, Riley’s mom.
A recent Education Week Research Center survey of nearly 500 district leaders and principals found more than half are seeing a decline in kindergarten enrollment.
Gloria Corral is the president and CEO of the Parent Institute for Quality Education. She says many young learners are already feeling behind because schools had to close last spring, and they miss out on far more than academics when not in the classroom.
“Things that we believe are so important as educators is really around creating routines, developing habits, things like self-soothing,” she says.
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Kindergarten isn’t required in parts of the country, so some parents are opting for kids to skip it altogether.
“We worry about the impact that not having children participate in these educational opportunities will have both in the short-term, but importantly, you know, over the long-term,” says Corral.
Rebecca chose to send Riley to preschool again to avoid virtual learning.
“A five-year-old can’t do that – to be sitting with her, forcing her to do the remote learning. I’ve already seen a huge improvement in her academically and she’s really excited to show me her letters and numbers,” she says.
Rebecca thinks her daughter will be more than ready for kindergarten next year and hopes things are more normal by then.
School leaders also worry a drop in enrollment will have an impact on state funding. The hope is that state legislatures will step in to help districts in need.