Return To The Classroom: How COVID-19 Has Affected Private Schools

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Although students at Anne Arundel County public schools will continue to learn virtually because of COVID-19, many private schools will bring kids to the classroom this fall.

Private schools are in the unique position of having smaller class sizes, carpools and the ability to meet all social distancing guidelines set by the Maryland State Department of Education for non-public schools and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

Many parents are transferring their students to private schools to get their education in person.

“Since public schools announced their decision to go virtual, we have seen a real increase in our enrollment,” said Jamey Hein, head of school at St-Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal School. “We have been bringing in those families in these last few weeks. We were going to have an enrollment of about 160; we are looking at an enrollment of around 190 to 200 come September. Some of our public school families are looking to us to have their child educated face to face.”

St. Martin’s students will return to the classroom on September 8. Hein said the staff has been hard at work designing a plan that meets all state and local guidelines. Students will be issued masks and will spend as much time outside as possible. Students’ temperatures will be taken before they enter the building, no more than 14 students will be allowed in a classroom and Hein is ready to switch to virtual learning should the state be put on another stay-at-home order.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore issued three models for schools to open: in-person with new safety requirements, hybrid learning and remote learning.

Under these guidelines, St. John the Evangelist School and Monsignor Slade Catholic School will reopen to students on August 31. Monsignor Slade is also offering parents the choice to opt for synchronous virtual instruction. Temperature checks, masks, and hand sanitizing stations will be implemented. Each school will have signage detailing the mask policies, directional signs and proper social distancing intervals.

Archbishop Spalding High School has chosen to adapt the Archdiocese’s hybrid model. Students will be split into Groups A and B. Group A will attend in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday, and Group B will attend in-person instruction on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be dedicated to enrichment. Students can meet with clubs virtually, meet with teachers, and attend prayer service while the school is being cleaned and sanitized.

The Divine Mercy Academy is opening under CDC guidelines. Students will wear masks, the school will be disinfected each day and social distancing will be strictly enforced. When attending mass, students will be asked to wipe down their pews before and after services. Annapolis Area Christian School will also welcome students in the fall.

Indian Creek School is planning to open on August 26 after deliberating with its health and safety task force. Families will have the option to learn remotely if they are not comfortable.

“In order for this plan to be successful, we each need to do our part,” said Head of School Booth Kyle in a statement sent to families and faculty. “At Indian Creek School, we take care of one another. We always have and we always will. This care and concern is a hallmark of Indian Creek School, and is what we do best.”

On August 3, Severn School announced that its administration is moving forward with a hybrid reopening model while continuing to monitor the pandemic. Families will be required to sign an acknowledgement of the school’s plan and a waiver of liability for the school.

Many parents around the nation have also turned to a new method of education, called “micro-schooling.” A micro-school is an at-home approach to the traditional classroom. A teacher might meet a small group of children in a spare room at someone’s house, for example.

According to the Micro-School Coalition, micro-schools establish a more comfortable learning environment and individualized experiences.

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