Kindergarten registration moved online after years of long lines, camp outs at EMSB schools

Despite cold weather, parents line up for registration at Royal Vale School, Sunday, February 5, 2017. Nav Pall / Global News

After years of parents lining up for hours — if not days — in the depths of winter, the English Montreal School Board (ESMB) is opting for a new strategy for registering students for kindergarten.

Under the plan, a pilot project was also unveiled by officials Tuesday to give parents a chance to sign up their children for certain elementary schools without having to crowd outside during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The opportunity to book a registration appointment will take place for five elementary schools:

  • Royal Vale in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
  • Edinburgh in Montreal West
  • Merton in Côte Saint-Luc
  • East Hill in Rivière-des-Prairies
  • Gardenview in Saint-Laurent

As part of the pilot project, the EMSB says interested parents in those five schools will be able to book an online appointment to register for the 2021-2022 academic year starting Jan. 25.

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“Over the years these schools have had long lineups, some starting days before registration occurred,” the school board said in a statement. “Parents will be called to validate their information, told if they got a spot and given an appointment time.”

Registration for kindergarten classes at all EMSB schools will then take place the first week of February, but children who already have a sibling at the school will be able to sign up before that.

READ MORE: Montreal parents camp outside Royal Vale School to enroll their kids

The first-come, first-serve process to sign kids up for kindergarten has been a longstanding practice at Royal Vale School, where some adults have camped outside to snag a coveted spot at the school.

In 2019, nearly 40 parents braved the cold for registration at the zone-free school which accepts children from all over.

“As per the EMSB enrollment policy, priority will be given to children residing within the school’s distinct boundary,” the school board said. “Royal Vale is an exception since it does not have a boundary nor bus transportation.”

While the online model is in place for registration, parents will still have to show up in person to provide their kid’s birth certificate and vaccination records to the school.

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The EMSB says that all “COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed for all schools when parents enter the building to submit the necessary documentation.”

Click to play video: 'Parents line up for days for kindergarten spot'
Parents line up for days for kindergarten spot

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