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Families encouraged to register now for kindergarten

Denise Ruszala, Director of Assessment and Accountability for Westfield Public Schools. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – Denise Ruszala, director of assessment and accountability for Westfield Public Schools is encouraging families with children who will be turning five on or before Sept. 1, 2021 to pre-register for kindergarten now.

Pre-registration is available online at, and can be completed on any mobile device or computer. People who do not have access to technology or need assistance or a translator, may contact the school department by emailing [email protected] or by calling 413-572-6439, and arrangements will be made.

“Families have to go online and create an account to register the children. If they need translator support or access to technology, they can schedule an appointment at 413 572-6329 and Westfield Public Schools will help them,” Ruszala said, adding that many families do come into the WPS Central Registration Office at 94 North Elm St., Suite 101.

In order for the registration to be completed, supporting documents may be mailed, emailed, or brought into Central Registration. Supporting documents for kindergarten include a Birth Certificate or I-94 Refugee Card, Complete Immunization Record and Physical Examination Documentation and Proof of Residency, which includes a mortgage payment or a rental agreement, a recent utility bill and driver’s license, photo ID or passport.

Kindergarten Screenings, which are required by law and assess math and literacy readiness and social skills, have been scheduled for the week of June 7 – 11, 2021. After completing the registration, families may set up an appointment by calling their child’s school at the following numbers:

Abner Gibbs Elementary School: 572-6418
Franklin Avenue Elementary School: 572-6424
Highland Elementary School: 572-6428
Munger Hill Elementary: 572-6520
Paper Mill Elementary: 572-6519
Southampton Road Elementary: 572-6435

Ruszala said enrollment in kindergarten this year was at 322, down slightly from the average number of 350 to 380 students. “Kindergarten registration was down this year because of COVID. Kindergarten is not required by the state, and a lot of parents exercised their right to keep their children home,” she said, adding that there was also an increase in home schooling applications this year.

Ruszala said WPS is anticipating that registration will go back to the usual capacity, and have already had families begin to register. “We’re excited to have all of our students back, especially kindergarten,” she said.

Ruszala said kindergarten is important for foundational academic and social skills. “They learn to be part of a classroom, they have peers, and learn to cooperate. It’s so important to their educational career. Reading and math skills in kindergarten are a predictor for future academic skills to become successful life-long learners,” she said, adding that children entering kindergarten this fall will be in the graduating class of 2034.

“We know we’re going to be receiving children where they are, based on the experience they had,” Ruszala said about the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown. “Our job as a public institution is to meet the students where they are. It’s a challenge that all districts are facing, but we have awesome teachers and administrators. It’s going to take time for them to gain back some of those academic skills.”

Ruszala said children are resilient, and this generation of students is going to have gained strength from this experience. “This might have inspired children in different ways. We don’t know the impact, but I’m always positive. Youth are far more powerful than we know, and they have the capacity to do great things if given the opportunity.”

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