It's time to be thinking about fall kindergarten: KPS orientation set for March 10 online

When school starts in August, Kalamazoo’s new kindergarteners will have a choice between traditional classrooms or online learning.

But the first step, orientation to the school buildings, will be a virtual experience, says Susan Coney, director of communications for Kalamazoo Public Schools. 

“Orientation is an opportunity to learn about the school and kindergarten expectations,” Coney says. “(The sessions) are not designed to test skills.”

Each elementary school will offer two identical online orientation sessions at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. March 10. Links for the sessions at each school can be found here. Online enrollment for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classes will begin later this month, she says.

Learning about school at kindergarten orientation at Greenwood Elementary School in 2020.“Kalamazoo Public Schools will be offering a fully in-person option for all grades beginning Aug. 30,” Coney says. “Parents also will be able to choose a virtual option, if they would like. Safety protocols will be in place for in-person learning, and the district will follow the guidelines provided by the CDC and the State of Michigan.”

The district has several new online tools to help parents prepare for registering students. 

Which school will my child attend?
Families that need to check their school attendance area can use the district’s new interactive map. The map and a street directory are on the district website here.

Is my child old enough for kindergarten?
Incoming students who will be 5 by Sept. 1 can enroll in kindergarten. Parents also may request kindergarten enrollment waivers for children who will be 5 years old no later than Dec. 1. 

What are the preschool options?
Eligible Pre-kindergarten students who will be 4 by Dec. 1 can sign up for PEEP, the KPS Pre-Kindergarten Early Education Program. There are state eligibility requirements to qualify for PEEP. PEEP applications are taken at all schools, but the program runs in only 12 schools: Arcadia, Edison, Greenwood, Indian Prairie, Lincoln, Northeastern, Parkwood-Upjohn, Prairie Ridge, Spring Valley, Washington, Winchell, and Woodward.
PEEP is part of the Great Start Readiness initiative. The program offers half-day or full-day pre-kindergarten classes with highly trained teachers. Meals are provided, and transportation is provided for students who live more than a mile from the school in their attendance district or for students who attend magnet schools that are outside their attendance district.

Enjoying kindergarten orientation at Greenwood Elementary School in 2020.When should I enroll my child?
KPS will be launching an online enrollment tool later in March. Parents will need to gather the incoming child’s birth certificate, immunization record, proof of hearing and vision screening, if available, and two proofs of residency (for example, a utility bill, lease agreement, or mortgage agreement).

Students who enroll in KPS as kindergarteners, attend all 13 years of school in KPS, and graduate from KPS, while meeting all residency and enrollment requirements, are eligible for a Kalamazoo Promise scholarship to cover 100 percent of college tuition and fees at most Michigan colleges and universities.

Children who need immunizations can visit Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Immunization Clinic, 311 E. Alcott St. During the COVID-19 pandemic, immunizations are by appointment only. The immunization clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, with other hours offered on a week-by-week basis while staff is also working COVID vaccination clinics. For more information, call KCHCS at 269-373-5203.

What if parents are unable to attend an orientation session?
Families who are unable to attend either virtual orientation session on March 10 can contact their elementary school for more information about registering for the upcoming school year. A booklet with further information about kindergarten, including skills checklists, will be available at schools and on the KPS website. There will also be a summer readiness opportunity for incoming kindergarten students. Online enrollment for the 2021-22 school year will begin next week. 

Families who have questions about their school assignments or enrollment may contact Student Services at 269-337-1061. 

For more information on kindergarten enrollment, please call Student Services at 269-337-0161. For information on PEEP, call 269-337-0095.

Photos courtesy of Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Read more articles by Rosemary Parker.

Rosemary Parker has worked as a writer and editor for more than 40 years, most of that time in Southwest Michigan.