In years past, Brockton parents would endure long lines to register their child for kindergarten. Kindergarten registration would at times take weeks to process if parents did not bring all the necessary paper documents to the Parent Information Center at 60 Crescent St.
Wanting to speed up the process, Márcia Andrade Serpa, director of school registration and the Parent Information Center for Brockton Public Schools, began experimenting last year with an online registration option.
As of March 16, 2020, the system was up and ready. Then COVID-19 hit.
Brockton Public Schools is seeing a significant increase in the rate of kindergarten registration as a result of switching to the online registration.
Before COVID-19, registration for school was strictly in-person at the Parent Information Center.
Closing down the Parent Information Center due to COVID-19 halted registration, but the creation of an online system of registration helped to get everyone registered amidst the start of the pandemic.
What started as a hybrid approach, where parents would have the opportunity to be on a video call with a staff member from the center, eventually switched completely to being online remote registration, available on the BPS website, accessible 24/7 from the comfort of their home, according to Andrade Serpa.
Parents are still permitted to come in to the center and use a computer on site to complete their registration, as being able to meet parents and answer any questions they have is still very important, Andrade Serpa said.
There are also instructional videos on the Brockton Public Schools website and representatives available during the day to assist parents with online registration.
This new system is available to all Brockton Public Schools students, but the early returns from kindergarten registration have shown a major increase since March 16, the first day of registration for kindergarten students.
“We have far exceeded the numbers we would have if we were doing paper registration at this point,” Andrade Serpa said of kindergarten registration.
In total more than 800 kindergarten applications are in the process of being completed within the first two weeks of registration, a number that would have been half of that, if registration was solely paper registration through the first two weeks.
Since she started working at the Parent Information Center in August 2019, Andrade Serpa would anticipate having close to 600 applications in the process by June or July with a push towards the end of the summer for the remaining applications.
Yearly, there are approximately, 1,200 students registering for kindergarten, according to Andrade Serpa.
“More convenient being at home and having all of your documents with you already,” Andrade said.
She adds that “COVID pushed everyone into making things more accessible to families electronically such as medical paper work or birth certificates.”
Registration for the remaining grades is on a rolling enrollment, but parents are encouraged to register before May 15 to be eligible for the dual language program, a program where students learn to read, write, and speak in two languages English/Portuguese, English/Spanish or English/French according to the BPS website.
Additionally, address changes became easier to confirm electronically, especially with the distribution of pandemic EBT cards, funds that are available to all Brockton Public School households regardless of immigration status. Hybrid learners receive $58.60 monthly, while fully remote learners receive $117.20 monthly.
Pandemic EBT cards, along with online school registration, are one of the many perks the Parent Information Center hopes parents can take advantage as long as the pandemic exists.
Enterprise staff writer Darvence Chery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.