New waiver for kindergartners, plus concerns about pandemic impacts on this age group

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A new waiver has been created, to waive the exam fee for families who want to test their kids into kindergarten early.

Kayla Young is a mother of two, who lives in South Charleston.

Her son Milo just finished kindergarten, and her daughter Zella will hopefully start this fall.

“The school cutoff is July the first,” says Young. “You have to be five by July 1st to get into kindergarten.”

Young’s daughter turned five on July 7th; so she missed the cutoff.

Instead of doing a second year of Pre-K, Young decided to have her daughter test into kindergarten.

“Once I got the information about the test, it’s $170,” said Young. “I lost my job due to COVID. So I don’t have that kind of extra income right now.”

She met with the Kanawha County school board, and got the board to pass waivers for families in a similar position – getting rid of the $170 fee.

“I understand this was not at the top of their priorities,” said Young. “But it’s important to me and my family, and I’m sure it’s important to other families who want to test their kids into kindergarten but couldn’t because of this financial barrier.”

As for her son Milo, who just finished kindergarten; “we went home for spring break and never went back to school,” said Young.

A lot of changes happened this spring, and will continue to happen throughout this fall.

There are no official decisions that have been made yet for kindergarten in the fall.  But whether it’s hybrid or all online, it’s putting a lot on parents’ shoulders.

“I think for kindergarten it’s especially difficult because ‘play’ is such a big part of our curriculum. It’s how they learn,” said Laura Miller, who is going into her sixth year of teaching kindergarten.

She says moving to virtual learning for her young students created concerns.

“I had a couple of kids who…if I could really work hard with them from March until the end of the year, they were showing slow but steady gains…and I was hoping I could get them ready. But that didn’t get to happen,” said Miller.

Miller says roughly half her class did not have easy access to the internet, or cars to take them to good internet.

She says this is worrisome as her students move on to first grade.

But regardless of the anxiety and uncertainties; “teachers in general are just great at rolling with the punches,” said Miller. “And do what we have to do for the kids. So we’ll continue to do that no matter what.”

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