Private School Enrollment Booms as Teachers Union Fights Return to Classroom

Education Minnesota could learn a thing or two from private schools when it comes to going back to school this fall. While the teachers union has largely turned a deaf ear both to parents and the science on safely reopening classrooms, private schools have done their homework and found a way.

As a result, grateful parents continue to respond by moving more children from public to private schools, according to the Jordan Independent.

As public school districts have wrestled all summer with tough decisions on how to start the school year, private institutions have forged ahead.

Shakopee Area Catholic School and St. Michael Catholic School in Prior Lake will have students in the classroom this fall. Both schools are opening with many COVID-19 precautions in place, but feel the best place for the students to be is in the classroom.

Unlike so many public schools where Education Minnesota members stand in the way of in-person learning, teachers in many  Catholic schools appear to be leading the charge.

“I have met with each teacher this summer and asked if they feel comfortable returning for in-person learning,” St. Michael Principal Sue Kerr said. “The answer has been a resounding yes. We know we need the honest compliance of every school family with our safety protocols if we are to remain open successfully and safely.

“We are all dedicated to doing this because our school is important for the spiritual, academic and social-emotional development of our children,” Kerr said. “What better reason is there than that?

SACS Principal Julie Moran said making sure teachers, staff and students were comfortable in the classroom was a top priority. From there, it was matter of meeting the “physical, social, emotional, spiritual and academic needs of students during this pandemic,” she said.

But there’s a limit to how many new students many private schools can accomodate and still meet state COVID guidelines.

Moran said there’s been an increase in interest in her school, but with limited space available in some grade levels. But SACS has the ability to open additional sections for a grade that is full…

“Our enrollment K-8 is a moving target right now,” Kerr said. “We have seen increased numbers, and have added sections at several grade levels to keep the students safely distanced in the classrooms. Most of our classrooms can safely distance about 16 to 18 desks.”

It’s fashionable to say when the pandemic winds down there will be a new normal. If so, it may well include families who find private schools better responded to their needs not only now but in the post-coronavirus classroom as well.