Kindergarten enrollment in York County returning to normal after pandemic drop

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
York Academy Regional Charter School kindergartener teacher Becky Frederick works with Yaviel Mendez whose class was making a thank you cards for healthcare workers Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The charter school's art honor society created the idea to make 3,000 cards for WellSpan York Hospital frontline healthcare workers. Bill Kalina photo

While schools across the U.S. are preparing for a rise in kindergarten enrollment next year, several local district officials said their enrollment is on track to return to normal after dropping last year. 

Officials from at least four York County school districts — Southern York County, Northeastern, Northern York County and Spring Grove — confirmed that their kindergarten enrollment is on track to match previous years. However, most districts have not set a deadline for kindergarten registration, so that could change by the fall. 

According to an Associated Press report, school districts across the country are bringing on new teachers to prepare for an anticipated rise in kindergarten enrollment following a decrease last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials from Northeastern, South Western and York City agreed that the pandemic acted as a deterrent for parents to enroll their students last fall. 

More:Schools across US brace for surge of kindergartners in fall

More:More than 2,800 COVID-19 cases recorded at York County schools during school year

York City is one district that is seeing a rise in kindergarten registration compared to last year. According to Administrator Nicole Snyder, the district has 68 pending kindergarten applications so far this year, which is a 23% rise from this time last year, when it had 55 applicants. 

Kindergarten enrollment for York City dropped by nearly 200 students between 2019 to 2020, which Snyder said was likely due to the pandemic. She said she expects enrollment to stay low for the next few years until "post-COVID confidence" is restored. 

York City spokesperson ShaiQuana Mitchell said it's too early to say if first-grade enrollment at the district will be higher due to the kindergarten enrollment drop last year. She said families can enroll their child in kindergarten at 6 years old, and she hopes families continue to do so. 

South Western, which also saw its kindergarten enrollment drop last year, is on track to see its numbers return to what they were pre-pandemic, according to West Manheim Elementary Principal Brian Cromer.

He said many families held different opinions on what learning models were best for their students, between remote, hybrid and in-person learning, which led to some hesitancy to enroll students last year. 

"The pandemic played a major role in determining what type of educational model they wanted for their children," Cromer said in an email.