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Getting Into NYC Kindergarten 2021: COVID-19 Edition

New York City parents have lots of questions about schools in September 2020:

Remote Or Hybrid Instruction?

Who Will Teach My Children?

If We Leave Now, Will Our Children Be Allowed To Return To Their Public Schools Later?

Not to mention: Whatever happened with those lost G&T Scores?

But, because this is New York City, parents also have lots of questions about schools in September 2021. Namely, how will they be able to apply their children to Kindergarten in light of shuttered buildings, social distancing, and teachers requesting to work from home?

We break down your options below:

General Education Public Schools:

Kindergarten applications traditionally open in mid-December and close in late January. NYC may have COVID-19 under control by then. Even if they don’t, the Kindergarten application process is strictly electronic (except for school tours, but that’s a separate issue), and based primarily on your address. For families who have temporarily left the city, as long as you kept your NYC residence, you should have no trouble applying.

Charter Schools:

Public charter schools are even easier to apply to than traditional public schools. They are purely lottery-based and, instead of keeping kids out via zoning, are often open to entire districts, sometimes even whole boroughs and more. Plus, you can apply to multiple schools without needing to rank them against each other.

Public School Gifted & Talented Programs:

This is where it gets tricky. Traditionally, public school G&T programs put up their Request For Testing forms in October, with actual testing happening in January. Exams are held in public school buildings. They are administered one on one at the Kindergarten level, but there is usually a crowded (and chaotic) waiting area at the weekend test sites. If social distancing is still in effect come January, the process could still presumably take place, but building entry would need to be strictly regulated, which will likely mean fewer students being tested per day, and the process stretching out over multiple weeks (which, in turn, will affect calculating your optimal testing date). Online testing is a possibility, of course, but the bigger obstacle may be that, as of June 2020, the vote to renew NYC’s contract with Pearson, the company which administers the test, has been postponed. Though School Chancellor Richard Carrazna said at a Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) meeting that the city is still negotiating a contract extension, some fear the current health crises will be used as an excuse to cancel testing — and thus end G&T programs — for good. Especially since, according to District 30 Community Education Council Co-President Deborah Alexander, it is not currently on the DOE’s Contracts Calendar for August.

Hunter College Elementary School:

By this time last year, HCES had already announced a date for opening — and closing — their admissions process (late August through early November). This year, however, their website still reads: Given the health ramifications of COVID-19, we are not ready to announce its impact on our ES admissions process for 2020-2021. The first round of Hunter admissions is a one-on-one with a Hunter-approved private psychologist. As doctors’ offices are presently open for business, as long as they comply with safety precautions, there is no reason why this piece can’t go on as usual. It is the Second Round, when children are observed in groups, that might prove more problematic. But that’s not until January. Might as well get started now!

Special Music School:

Children are assessed for musical ability in groups. Singing, the Center for Disease Control advises, is a COVID-19 super-spreader. So… Zoom auditions?

Private Schools:

Dalton, one of the most coveted private schools in NYC, is releasing its 2021 application today, Monday, August 17. They are also sharing detailed information on the T&E assessment developed specifically for use during this unprecedented season. According to them: This common assessment provides families with the ability to apply to multiple schools but forgo the burden of multiple virtual assessments. Instead, applicants to participating schools engage in one common assessment, the results of which are shared with schools to which the family has applied and that accept and/or require the T&E Assessment.

The T&E is a non-standardized, non-normed, child-friendly set of activities designed specifically to be administered virtually to four and five-year-olds applying to Kindergarten. The T&E taps expressive and receptive language, verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills, traceability, problem-solving skills, and developmental areas in which schools need information to determine fit between applicant and program.

The T&E Assessment is administered using Zoom technology on a desktop or laptop computer, or on a tablet, in the child’s home. Upon starting the T&E, the assessor guides the child through a variety of developmentally appropriate activities. 

Other participating schools include:

  • The Allen-Stevenson School
  • The Berkeley Carroll School
  • The Birch Wathen Lenox School
  • The Brearley School
  • The Browning School
  • The Buckley School
  • The Calhoun School
  • The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine
  • The Chapin School
  • Collegiate School
  • Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School
  • Convent of the Sacred Heart
  • The Dalton School
  • The Elisabeth Morrow School
  • The IDEAL School of Manhattan
  • Marymount School of New York
  • The Nightingale-Bamford School
  • The Packer Collegiate Institute
  • Rodeph Sholom School
  • Saint Ann’s School
  • The Spence School
  • Speyer School
  • St. Luke’s School
  • St. Bernard’s School
  • St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s School
  • Trevor Day School
  • Trinity School

But don’t get too excited, parents! It’s not going to be that easy. 

In response to the above schools agreeing to share a common assessment, the following schools released a statement proclaiming: Given that the admissions process will be virtual at our schools, we believe that it is essential to create our own individual and independent processes to get to know applicant families. We also believe that by assessing applicants according to the distinct values, cultures, and missions of our independent schools, we enable families to get to know our schools well. Transparency always matters, but never more so than now, when every one of us is experiencing the stress of this pandemic. Each of our schools has developed a unique way to understand our young applicants while building trust and enduring relationships with each family.  

These schools include:

  • Alexander Robertson School
  • Blue School
  • Brooklyn Friends
  • Brooklyn Heights Montessori
  • Caedmon School
  • City and Country School
  • Corlears School
  • Dwight
  • Friends Seminary
  • Grace Church School
  • Hewitt
  • Horace Mann
  • LREI
  • Manhattan Country School
  • Poly Prep
  • Saint David’s
  • Studio School
  • Town School
  • United Nations International School
  • Village Community School

For parents planning to maximize their school choices, it’s shaping up to be an admissions season like no other. We’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available!

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