Private schools planning in-person school year; many seeing uptick in enrollment inquiries

Private schools say they've received a number of calls from public school parents who want to have an in-person school year option for their kids

MADISON, Wis. — Following the announcement that Madison Metropolitan Public Schools will be starting the upcoming school year virtually, many private schools plan to hold in-person classes.

High Point Christian School Principal Charles Moore said his school will be offering both in person and virtual classes this year to help accommodate the needs of a variety of families.

“There are some parents that are excited about a place where they can have their kids if they have to go to work but there are probably a few that are like our parents that had the ability to stay home and work with kids but they didn’t feel like it was the best educational outcome that they could have had,” Moore said. “All the principals and teachers are working in a whole new area we’ve never been in before.”

Moore said after sending out a survey asking parents how they would like to see the school year unfold, “We had nearly everybody interested in coming for in person school, but about 20% were interested in maybe only virtual school.”

He added that following public health guidelines will be easier because many of the students can be spread out in the church that the school is connected to.

“We’re going to be able to put some of our classes in very large areas. That will help us continue to do the 6-foot social distancing,” Moore said.

Moore said the in-person classes will be split up to hold about 13 students per classroom.

A similar hybrid model is also being offered at Lighthouse Christian School where Principal Tia Sierra said, “The overwhelming majority of parents want to be in person.”

Sierra said about 5-10% of parents expressed interest in virtual learning, and those parents can switch to in-person during the school year if they choose.

Sierra also said in an effort to increase social distancing as much as possible while still giving students the ability to leave the classroom, “We are also considering having outdoor learning classrooms. So, right now we are exploring tents for outdoor classes.”

Sierra and Moore said they’ve received a number of calls from parents within the Madison School District interested in enrolling their kids for the year while Madison goes virtual. Sierra said while they don’t have a ton of open spots, they are considering an option for them at a low cost.

“We are considering opening up one more classroom that could be used just to support parents that maybe have to work and their kids could come and we would have a teacher working just with them,” Sierra said.  “They wouldn’t necessarily be enrolled as Lighthouse Christian School students but it would just be community support.”

Sierra said there are also protocols in place in case someone tests positive for COVID during the school year.

“The entire class would have to quarantine for two weeks,” she explained. “We would have a substitute take over for those two weeks, all those kids would be home and all of those kids would then go virtual for those two weeks.”

Both Moore and Sierra said they will be following all public health guidelines to safely reopen schools. They will be requiring students to wear masks inside, screening anyone who enters the building and implementing additional cleaning services.