Will Sioux Falls see a post-pandemic kindergarten class-size surge?

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls School District is gearing up for the 2021/2022 school year, and Assistant Superintendent Teresa Boysen says the system is preparing for 2,000 new kindergarteners to enter the district’s 23 elementary schools.

This comes as a report from the Associated Press shows that across the nation districts are hiring kindergarten teachers in anticipation of a surge of incoming children who have been kept back from starting school last year due to the pandemic.

While 2,000 kindergarteners may seem like a lot, Boysen says it actually tends to be the average each year. When asked if the district is anticipating extra students this year, Boysen says they are currently planning for a normal year. “We’re expecting 2,000 again this year. We’re right on track with enrollments,” she says.

Boysen tells us the district did see a drop in kindergarten enrollment last year, with only about 1,800 students entering the system rather than the usual 2,000, but she says that this drop is not necessarily due to COVID-19. “That’s hard to know,” she says. ” Was it just a low birth year, and that’s why we were low — we have no idea why our enrollment was low.”

Boysen says that if there is an influx of kindergarteners, the district will respond as needed. “We staff at the elementary level for 24.3, so 24 students for every teacher — if we need to hire additional staff, we’ll hire additional staff,” she says.

According to Boysen, there was no noticeable drop in grades above kindergarten, something she attributes to the District’s Virtual Academy, a program which allowed students to learn from home.

Boysen says the District will reevaluate their numbers in August to ensure there is enough staff for all students, a process which she says parents can assist with. “We just encourage anyone out there with a kindergartener to get them enrolled so we can plan for the Fall.”

Parents can enroll their kids in kindergarten at the Instructional Planning Center at 201 E. 38th St. over the summer, or at Central Services at 1101 Northwest Ave.

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