Prepping for back to school in York County

Alyssa Jackson
  • Ensuring that your child is registered for school is of top importance.
  • Children who do not qualify for medical or religious exemptions must be vaccinated.
  • Have children start to go to bed and wake up earlier a week or two before school starts.

Back to school time is one of the busiest times of year for parents. There's shopping to do, doctor's appointments to get to and orientations to keep track of.

In this file photo, Valley View Elementary second-grade teacher Kayla Ichter hangs a number chart in her classroom Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, while preparing her room for the first day of school. file photo

Kim Schlemmer, assistant superintendent at Red Lion Area School District, said the start of a new school year for children is similar to an adult starting a new job. The weeks spent preparing for the new year are important for kids and parents alike.

One important thing that parents should do immediately, according to Schlemmer, is make sure their child is registered for school. Parents have until the first day of school to register children for kindergarten or to register any transfer students, but the longer they wait, the more problems could arise.

In this file photo, Valley View Elementary second-grade teacher Cheryl Johnson distributes student items on desks near her classroom "teepee" Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. file photo

"On occasion, classes get filled in an elementary school, and kids may not be able to be assigned to their home school," Schlemmer said. She explained that the first few days of school are incredibly important, so waiting until after school begins to register a child is typically frowned upon.

"Transitioning from school is so much easier when kids are registered and ready to begin school on the first day. So many critical rules and routines are reviewed the first few days of school, so it makes these days extra important for students to participate," she said.

Health: Schlemmer said it's also important to ensure that all paperwork is properly filled out and that students have had the vaccinations and physicals required to attend the public school. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education site, the Department of Health immunization regulations state that all students must be vaccinated to attend public school, unless they are exempt for medical or religious reasons.

Information on the Department of Education website shows students entering kindergarten need the following vaccinations to attend:

  • Four doses of tetanus 
  • Four doses of diphtheria 
  • Three doses of polio 
  • Two doses of measles 
  • Two doses of mumps 
  • One dose of rubella 
  • Three doses of hepatitis B 
  • Two doses of varicella (chickenpox) 

Students entering seventh grade need an additional set of shots:

  • One dose of tetanus, diphtheria and accellular pertussis (TDP) if five years have passed since the last tetanus immunization 
  • One dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine 

The Pennsylvania Department of Education site states that vaccinations are "critical to protect children against the preventable diseases that can cause absences, disruptions and serious illness." According to the site, pertussis, or whooping cough, can last for 10 weeks or more. Students are vaccinated for this disease in seventh grade.

Parents  need to ensure that their children are able to eat the first day of school by putting funds in their lunch account, a process that is different for each school district.

Parents also should check that their address and emergency contact information is correct in the case of any health emergencies.

General preparation: Aside from the important health and registration actions that parents need to take, there are a number of general steps families should take to ensure their students are well-prepared for the first day of school.

Very few schools in York County send out school supply lists, according to a survey of local superintendents, and all schools will provide supplies for students who need them if the family cannot afford the supplies. If a family is interested in buying special folders, notebooks or other items for their children, they can begin saving up or shopping now, before supplies run out in stores.

Mary Jo Moczulski, the principal at Canadochly Elementary School, said parents should begin their child on a school sleep schedule starting now. She suggested that kids get 10 hours of sleep each night.

"A bed time of 8 or 8:30 p.m. is not unreasonable," she said. "Even if they tell you they are not tired, their bodies need time to recover."

To avoid falling into a summer slump, students should continue learning and being active throughout the summer and during the few weeks before school starts. Moczulski suggested parents read to their kids for 15 minutes a day if they aren't already. Students can also begin to prepare for the school year by setting goals, both academic and social, for the upcoming year, according to Schlemmer.

Parents should check in with their school district to see if there are any orientations or teacher introductions in the days or weeks before the first day of school. Red Lion holds a kindergarten readiness camp each year, as well as new student orientations for students going into the high school and "meet the teacher" days.

York City School District holds a back-to-school event for each K-8 school in the district as well as the high school, according to spokeswoman Erin James. The events have informational tables, face painting, bounce houses, food and more.

Finally, Schlemmer reminds parents to enjoy the last few weeks of summer with their kids.

"Most importantly, parents and kids should enjoy the remainder of the summer together," Schlemmer said. "Kids grow up quickly, so make the most of the time together. It doesn’t have to be elaborate events or exotic trips — just being together, talking and listening will create endless memories. Just have fun!"