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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana schools are bracing for a surge of kindergarteners as enrollment rebounds with the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.

This comes after school districts in Marion County saw as much as a 25 percent decrease in admissions to Kindergarten classes for the 2020-2021 school year.

While the official enrollment count won’t be taken until October 2021, school districts are preparing for the arrival of students who chose not to enroll last year.

Administrators are already hiring additional teachers. Educators say supporting students where they are and making sure they feel safe is a top priority.

“We’re preparing classrooms, getting them ready for social interaction with one another,” said Terri Alexander Matthews, principal at Chapelwood Elementary School. “Making sure we have materials and things to ensure they have a successful start to kindergarten is important.”

Principal Matthews says supporting teachers as they head back into the classroom is crucial to ensuring a safe and successful school year. 

It remains uncertain just how big kindergarten classes will be in the fall. The increase could be offset by parents who decide to wait an extra year to send 5-year-olds or opt for homeschooling because of safety concerns.

Regardless, education leaders say they expect to be addressing the effects of the pandemic for years.