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MECK Pre-K will open with in-person instruction

The early childhood education program is also lifting income restrictions to allow more families impacted by COVID-19 to take part.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — MECK Pre-K announced it will open for in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year. The program offers free, quality pre-kindergarten education to eligible four-year-old children and serves thousands of kids in Mecklenburg County every year. 

The decision to open for in-person classes was made following a survey by families, teachers and daycare providers, where the pre-k programs are run, as well as discussions with health and education officials. 

Officials with MECK Pre-K said it was clear after gathering feedback there was a need and desire for young children to return to the classroom.  The program leaders felt operating on-site learning would benefit young children by providing safe, supervised and high-quality care and also allow parents to return to work. 

Leaders said virtual pre-k was not an effective option after reviewing data about remote learning for young children.  

RELATED: Education leaders fear COVID-19 will lead to kids falling behind on reading

To help families impacted by COVID-19, Mecklenburg County has lifted the income restrictions previously in place.  To be eligible for the program for the 2020-2021 school year, children need to live in Mecklenburg County and turn four years old on or before August 31.  

"We know that there is a lot of uncertainty in our community due to COVID-19," says MECK Pre-K Executive Director Trinisha Dean. "The County Manager and I want to reassure families that MECK Pre-K is here for them no matter what, delivering on our mission to prepare young children for kindergarten." 

MECK Pre-K works with a network of four and five-star childcare providers, who will have the option of participating in opening for in-person learning this year.  Centers that want to take part will reopen in a few weeks with more safety and health protocols in place. 

Classroom sizes will be smaller and allow for more social distancing. There will also be daily health checks, enhanced cleaning protocols and limits on who is allowed to enter the classroom or daycare center. 

RELATED: MECK Pre-K wrapping up first year of program

The program will begin allowing students to attend classes starting September first but on a staggered entry schedule.  

There will be two virtual webinars to learn more about the MECK Pre-K program and changes for the 2020-2021 school year.  The first is Thursday, August 13 at 6:30 p.m. That one will be in English.  A Spanish webinar will be Thursday, August 13 at 7:30 p.m.  

There will also be a "Drive-Thru" registration event on Saturday, August 15 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. in the parking log of the Child and Family Services Building at 601 E. 5th Street, Charlotte.  

Space in the MECK Pre-K program is limited. For more information families can call 704-943-9585 or email info@meckprek.org.

RELATED: Why Pre-K is so important