North County Private School Enrollment Rises As Public Schools Continue Distance Education | Education


After the COVID-19 pandemic forced Jada Beaudet to complete her eighth year in distance education, the 15-year-old and her family hoped her freshman year at Righetti High School would bring her back to class and a healthier routine.

However, after several weeks of endless online learning, Jada’s parents began to explore another option: transferring to St. Joseph High School, a private prep school that has reopened for online learning. nobody in October.

While Righetti would have been a great school, stepfather John Glines said the promise of in-person learning at a top school like St. Joseph was too good to pass up.

“What I found in her was that she was becoming calm, reclusive and a little lost. It just isn’t good for the kids. We were worried about having a high school dropout if we were to stay. virtual, “Glines said.” What happened to us is that she could be on the St. Joe’s campus.

Like many private schools, St. Joseph was able to reopen due to its small size. However, as distance education drags on in most public districts, many private schools are also seeing an increase in admissions as families who can afford the tuition choose to avoid the wait altogether.

According to St. Joseph principal Erinn Dougherty, the school accepted a small number of transfers in the middle of the fall semester, but saw a marked increase in interest during the application period for the year. school 2021-2022.

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Elementary students at La Purisima Catholic School, wearing their face covers in class, are separated by 6 feet apart and plastic barriers around their desks.

“Last year we had 18 applications right after winter break. This year we have 121 applications. We have restructured our admissions system and we are now doing sliding admissions,” said Dougherty.

Elementary and middle schools in North County are also seeing renewed interest during the pandemic. At St. Mary of the Assumption School in Santa Maria, administrators searched for openings in classrooms to accommodate parent transfer requests to local public schools, principal Michelle Cox said.

“The main reason most parents give for visiting our school and considering a transfer is that their children have difficulty learning online. They want in-person instruction not only for academic reasons, but also for the social and emotional well-being of their children, ”Cox said.

At the private school of Lompoc La Purisima Conception Catholic SchoolDaisy Arias, the school’s administrative assistant who handles student enrollment, said that in a typical year, they enroll around 60 students.

This year, however, they beat that average with 82 students enrolled for K-8 grades, which Arias credits to parents wanting children to return to class.

“We’re back to in-person learning, five days a week with half-days on Fridays,” Arias said. “We are operating as before, without a gathering or assembly of students, of course. “

Arias said that because the school has a limited number of students in order to stay in line with a 15: 1 student-teacher ratio, there is currently a waiting list for Kindergarten, 1, 7 and eighth.

In class, students remain socially estranged and are separated by plastic barriers added to desks, and during lunch and school playgrounds are split into two distinct cohorts.

“It worked pretty well,” Arias said.

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As the end date for distance education becomes increasingly confused during the COVID-19 pandemic, some students in Santa Barbara County have moved from public districts to private schools like St. Joseph High School in Orcutt , which reopened for in-person learning in October.

Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy Also saw an influx of student registrations for the 2020-21 school year, which Principal Scott Carleton said is likely related to the closure of public schools in the area.

“We would like to think it’s not due to COVID but for everyone to find out how great a school we are,” Carleton said, noting that 30 more students have enrolled this year in the past school year . “We did what it took to get our kids back to campus.”

Although some families have opted for a private school, tuition fees of up to $ 11,000 per year may not be achievable for other county residents who will have to continue to wait for a possible return to in-person learning in schools. public.

While public school districts like Lompoc Unified, Orcutt Union, Santa Maria-Bonita, and Santa Maria Joint-Union were allowed to continue reopening in the fall, when Santa Barbara County entered the red level, all have chose to wait, the opportunity disappearing as rates rose in December.

Under state education guidelines, classes K-6 must wait for the county’s COVID-19 case rates to drop to 25 per 100,000 people to reopen, and classes 7-12 must wait for rates to reach 7 per 100,000.

Santa Barbara County’s current adjusted case rate is 47.2, according to state data.

The decision to delay the reopening has angered some parents, with others noting the growing inequality between students in public schools and those in private schools.

“The current trend seems to be that if you can’t afford or don’t go to private schools, your child can’t go back. This creates a huge injustice,” said Sara Shiffrar, parent of the school district of Orcutt Union. October.


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