PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Many area schools are holding kindergarten enrollment for next school year, as several of school districts have already announced plans to return to full in-person learning for the 2021-22 academic year.
WPTV has learned that Palm Beach County is expecting a record-setting kindergarten class.
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"I think it will be just almost back to normal," said Teresa Dabrowski.
Dabrowski is mom to current kindergartner Tessa and future kindergartner Remi.
"I think it's neat they are going to have all the kids there and back in-person," Dabrowski said. "Seeing their friends and being able to socialize."
With the news that the School District of Palm Beach County is planning on a full return to in-person learning next school year, elementary schools are getting prepared for what Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy said will be the largest kindergarten class ever in Palm Beach County.
"Across the country, not just Palm Beach County, there were a lot of pre-K, [kindergarten] and [first-grade] kids who just stayed home with their families," Fennoy said.
That included the superintendent's family himself.
"Getting to know my five-year-old was a big," Fennoy said. "I appreciate that. I don’t know if I would know her the same way if it wasn’t for COVID, and that's a crazy little blessing to have."
At Wellington Elementary School, Principal Maria Vaughan held a virtual kindergarten round-up earlier this month, getting families familiar with the school and answering questions.
"I do believe we are going to have a large influx of kindergarten students next year, just judging from our registration so far and the interest in parents registering their students early for next year." Vaughan said.
Vaughan added that the school is ready for that increase in students and excited to have more little learners on campus.
"Especially kindergarten students, for their first experience at school, they missed out on some things that I think when they come to school next year, those students now as first graders, it's going to be like coming to school for the first time," Vaughan said.
In addition, Vaughan said the school is preparing for the logistics involved with having more children in classrooms.
"Most of our classrooms are set up for the maximum capacity for students," Vaughan said. "So we might have to do tiny tweaks here and there, but mostly our classrooms are already set up for that."
This year's Palm Beach County kindergarten class is expected to be about 14,500 children. That's about 1,500 more students than in a typical year.
"Getting such a large group of kids, we need to look at it as their 12-year, 13-year experience should be different than everyone else," Fennoy said. "Because they are coming into it the first, sort of, class post-COVID. Their graduation is going to be fascinating."
For now, Dabrowski is looking forward to some of the milestones she missed this school year.
"It's still bittersweet. I still have not seen the inside of the school itself, so it's very different," Dabrowski said.
For more information about kindergarten round-up and registration in the School District of Palm Beach County, click here.
Martin County students can get kindergarten registration information by clicking here.
Indian River County kindergarten enrollment information is available by clicking here. The county also has a kindergarten summer program to help get students ready for elementary school. You can learn more by clicking here.
Okeechobee County kindergarten enrollment can be found by clicking here.
St. Lucie Public Schools held three days of kindergarten and new student enrollment last week.