District warns against K gap year

District warns against K gap year

The San Diego Unified School District is emphasizing to families that children who turned five last week or earlier should enroll in kindergarten. School leaders are increasingly concerned parents may be waiting to enroll their students because COVID-19 has forced schools to remain physically closed.

Media reports have spotlighted declines in kindergarten enrollment in other large districts. This spring, the largest group of students who failed to log in for online learning were kindergartners: 51 percent in San Diego Unified. Children who turned 5 on Sept. 1, 2020 or earlier are eligible to enroll in kindergarten throughout the district.

“As a former elementary school teacher, I want parents to know there is so much more than Zoom calls happening for our kindergarteners right now,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “Kindergarten is a critical time for students to make friends, learn about school and begin building the academic skills they will need later in life. Our professional educators are ready to make that happen for all our kindergarteners, which is why we need them to enroll today.”

Families are encouraged to sign up ( their children for kindergarten to begin their K-12 education, and to establish a connection with their San Diego Unified school community.

During online learning, a Chromebook laptop computer will be provided to every kindergartner. San Diego Unified offers live, daily interaction between every student and his or her teacher. The district also offers assistance to families in need of WiFi, and students are eligible for free meals available at distribution sites across the district.

In the spring when schools closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19, participation rates for online learning across all grade levels at San Diego Unified schools exceeded 97 percent for transitional-kindergarten through high school. Of the students who did not participate, the majority, 51 percent, were students in the very youngest grade levels, transitional-kindergarten and kindergarten.

The importance of early childhood education is well documented. A New York Times article detailing independent research from a two-decade Harvard study of 12,000 children, showed those who attended kindergarten and did well were “…more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds,” and, as adults, earned more money and saved more for retirement. ( 

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