Concerns persist over impact of COVID-19 pandemic on preschool students as they prepare to enter kindergarten

Another possible impact of COVID-19 could make a difference for pre-schoolers trying to transition into kindergarten.

Preschool never stopped at the Scottsdale YMCA on Shea Boulevard, as no executive orders issued by Gov. Doug Ducey in Arizona shut preschools down, even when older grades had to go virtual.

The numbers, however, have dwindled.

“Before the pandemic, we had strong enrollment, but once the pandemic hit, we dropped to maybe 30-40% capacity," said Jenna Cooper, who oversees youth development at Valley of the Sun YMCA.

Cooper She says shrinking enrollment forced many other child care centers to close. Without enrollment, they can’t stay open. Many of the kids in attendance at the Y have parents who can’t work from home.

"Hospitals, grocery store clerks, postal service," said Cooper.

However, it’s the kids stuck at home that are worrying experts in child development. Cooper says preschool isn’t babysitting.

“Preschool programs are traditional for three to five-year-olds, and our objective is kindergarten readiness," said Cooper. "It’s to make sure they’re ready to excel that first year of school. Without that, children go into kindergarten without knowing their ABC’s, their 123’s, not knowing how to spell their name," said Cooper.

Hopes are high that the pandemic end is in sight, but the ripple effects are likely not done.