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By Shawn Raymundo

Beginning next school year, kindergarten classes across all elementary schools will go from half-day sessions to full days, the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) announced Wednesday, Jan. 16.

CUSD and the Capistrano Unified Education Association (CUEA) had first approved introducing a full-day kindergarten program back in early 2018, according to CUSD spokesperson Ryan Burris. The full-day program was implemented to a dozen schools at the start of the current school year.

“Both CUSD and the Capistrano Unified Education Association recognize the benefits in partnering to enhance student academic and social achievement,” CUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital said in a press release.

“We received positive response from our full day kinder teachers and appreciate their feedback on strategies and challenges that need to be worked through,” she added.

The decision to extend the schools’ kindergarten programs was based on several studies that found full-day kindergartens benefit the students as well as teachers and parents.

“Full-day kindergarten is attractive to our families because it helps eliminate transportation challenges for families with other elementary aged children and reduces child care expenses,” Brad Shearer, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said in the release.

A 2005 policy brief published by the educational research organization, WestEd, reported that full-day kindergarten programs help prepare students for primary-grade learning, lead to higher academic achievement, improve attendance, and could enhance “social, emotional and behavioral development.”

“Our mission as a school district is to prepare students to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world,” Vital said in the release. “Research indicates that providing students with a longer kindergarten school day will increase student performance and help ensure that students are not only prepared for first grade, but will have an excellent foundation for their entire K-12 experience.”

The kindergarten classes will be about six hours, lining up with the start times of each elementary school, Burris noted.

Parent informational meetings, or “Kindergarten Roundups,” will be held at each elementary school from the end of January through February. The first meetings are scheduled for Jan. 22 at Palisades Elementary School at 12:30 p.m. and at Concordia Elementary School at 1:30 p.m.

A full list of the Roundups schedule can be found via Google Doc on the CUSD’s news page.

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