PHOENIX — Open enrollment for next school year, still underway right now for districts across the state. However, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and schools reopening, and it may have the biggest impact on our state's youngest learners.
"I don't feel we're ready to start kindergarten for August," said Ibi Catalan. She had the ideal school in mind for her daughter, but that was before coronavirus.
"Before my concern was the academic concern, like what that school offered for my daughter, but at this point my concern is the safety," said Catalan. "What's the infrastructure of that school? The space? The illumination?"
The state is still working on a reopening plan, due out by the end of May. However, with protocols like PPE and social distancing on the table, students entering the traditional K-12 system, will likely have a very non-traditional experience.
"I think there may be some long-term ramifications to that as far as mental health concerns, emotional concerns for children adjusting," said Kelley Murphy, director of early childhood education for the Children's Action Alliance. "We really have to be mindful of what we expect out of kids when they start school, I think especially for the youngest learners."
Murphy says even with so much unknown, parents should still register now and decide later.
"It helps the district’s plan, it helps them figure out how many teachers they need to hire, how many classrooms they need and all those things," Murphy said.
For now, Catalan and her family are waiting to see what the state's plan entails. She is hoping for a hybrid options, so her kids can keep learning from home a bit longer, if needed.
"As of now, I don't feel safe that I will send my daughter," she said.
Some parents say they are more confused than concerned as districts work through how they will register students these next few months, while social distancing. Some districts have already taken their process online, others are offering packet pick-up and drop-off locations.
Check with your school or district for those details.