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Columbus City Schools to Help Youngest Learners Prepare for Kindergarten

October 21, 2021 (Columbus, OH) — COVID-19 prompted much-needed federal funding to schools across the nation. In addition to regular preschool offerings, Columbus City Schools (CCS) is using some of that money to provide an early education option to 4-year-old students who are not attending in-person classes. Research shows that children who begin school unprepared for kindergarten are likely to stay behind academically. That is not equitable education, and it’s why CCS has partnered with the education nonprofit to provide the at-home Waterford Upstart program to 1,700 students across the school system at no cost to the district’s families, Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon said.  

“Research shows [the time] between ages 3 and 8 are critical in the educational development for children, and we remain committed to providing high-quality early childhood education to prepare our youngest learners for kindergarten,” said Dr. Dixon. ”Pre-K programs and partnerships within the District have continued to expand, and Waterford Upstart presents us a unique opportunity to remove barriers that may have prevented families from enrolling in a CCS early childhood classroom. High school graduation may be far down the road, but it’s these early investments in their education that will set future Columbus City Schools graduates up for success.” 

“We understand that families across Columbus may not be able to get their children to a brick and mortar classroom, whether from a lack of transportation or fears from COVID. An at-home solution like Waterford Upstart has proven to be not only effective for educating our youngest learners but also a necessity for many families,” said Kim Fischer, national spokesperson for “Waterford Upstart meets families where they are, so they can feel confident their children will walk into their first day of kindergarten prepared and ready to learn.”

CCS is still accepting applications for its high-quality, tuition-free early childhood program. The District’s in-person pre-kindergarten classrooms are led by licensed, qualified educators, and the five-day program also provides free breakfast and lunch for students. Waterford Upstart is not meant to replace the robust preschool program CCS offers; rather, it is a supplement for families in need. Waterford Upstart begins Oct. 4 and runs through May 2022. Families needing a computer or internet access will have that provided at no cost when they apply at