BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As the upcoming school year approaches, a Baltimore area preschool program for children with special needs is gearing up to welcome students back into classrooms despite the coronavirus pandemic.

PACT’s Pre-K Classroom is an affiliate organization of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, offering a full-day educational program in an inclusive setting. The program is designed to meet the individual needs of children who have medical conditions requiring daily nursing care and children with developmental disabilities who require multiple therapies.

“Our whole system is set up to be play-based, to be engaging for children, to be a safe place for families to bring their children,” program director Sharon Holloway said.

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The school also opens its doors for students without any special needs, allowing them to experience a curriculum with a diverse population.

“All of the research really shows that inclusion is beneficial for all children, not just children with developmental disabilities or special healthcare needs,” Holloway said.

Those benefits are why Sheena Bowles enrolled her son in the program last year.

“I liked the fact that he would be learning amongst children who had different levels of learning,” she said. “To me, that just made sure I was raising an empathetic human.”

To ensure students and staff are safe this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, the program has put strict plans into place.

“Daily screening, no visitors on-site, we’re doing a lot of education with children before they return and while they’re here around what does six feet look like, how do we keep six feet,” Holloway said.

Program leaders said they feel confident and are ready to safely welcome students back into the classroom.

PACT Pre-K is offered in Woodlawn and Kennedy Krieger’s Greenspring campus in north Baltimore. To learn more, click here.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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