Private schools gain edge with re-opened classrooms this fall

It’s hard for nervous parents who are unable to count on public schools fully opening this fall to miss the headlines popping up all over. Here’s a few recent examples.

“Duluth private schools will have in-person learning”–Duluth News Tribune

“Private schools prepare to reopen”–Mankato Free Press

“Rochester Catholic schools to hold in-person classes”–Rochester Post Bulletin

While public schools largely remain on the fence over whether to even partially reopen and the Education Minnesota teachers union fights them all the way, private schools have risen to the occasion. Parents in Duluth have known for weeks in some cases that their child’s private school plans to be open for in-classroom instruction this fall, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

While public schools across Minnesota are still working out their plans for the 2020-21 school year after getting more direction from the Department of Education on Thursday, private schools in Duluth have already announced they will be holding in-person classes.

Private schools are not bound by state mandates. Marshall School announced plans for in-person school in early July. Montessori School of Duluth, Lakeview Christian Academy and Stella Maris Academy have also recently decided to hold in-person school this fall.

Of course, the schools have announced steps to protect students from exposure to COVID-19, but the protective plan doesn’t necessarily entail requiring kids to wear masks.

[Montessori Head of School Michelle] Gutsch said children will not be required to wear masks and neither will the teachers and care providers that stay within one group.

“This is being done because it’s so important for language development and emotional recognition at this age and is recommended by the (Minnesota Department of Health),” Gutsch said. “We do have a couple of floating teachers who will be wearing masks.”

As an extra safety precaution, Gutsch said there will be a hand sanitizing station and temperature station at the elementary entrance.

The longer public schools take to make plans, the more interest some private schools  see in inquiries from new families, the Mankato Free Press reports.

The principals of the Lutheran schools said they have heard from a number of prospective families interested in the certainty for in-person learning in a smaller school setting.

[Principal Brandan] Heinze said it’s a positive challenge for Immanuel Lutheran School because it has room to grow.

“This year has seen an increase in community interest for attending Immanuel, which I welcome because that opens doors for us to share the life-giving Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to some we would not otherwise have reached,” Heinze said.

Resuming in-person classroom teaching only adds to the built-in advantages private schools already have in many respects over their public counterparts. In-class instruction clearly offers the opportunity for more effective learning and parents know it.