As published by Arizona Capitol Times
By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times
A sharp drop in the number of youngsters in Arizona kindergartens this year due to COVID-19 could have ripple effects for years to come on their education.
State schools chief Kathy Hoffman said while enrollment in public schools is down 5% from the same time a year earlier, the preliminary figure is about 14% for kindergarten.
Hoffman said parents are telling her that their concerns about the coronavirus are causing them to keep their children at home. That’s allowed as kindergarten is optional.
But Hoffman, who as a speech therapist worked with young children, said there are major implications to skipping this stage of organized instruction. And those who do not attend could end up with issues, not only when they go into the first grade a year from now but even further down the road.
“One of the greatest benefits is the social and emotional learning and being able to play with other kids,” she said. But Hoffman said parents also are worried about the spread of the virus in the classroom.
But the schools chief said she remains convinced the best bet is to get those kids into kindergarten for at least a few hours a day.